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JIS News

His love for the hospitality industry and the farming sector have resulted in a blissful marriage of the two, which has given birth to the Negril Tree House Resort, Negril Spots Farm, and Moreland Hill Farm.Having reaped success in all these business ventures, it is no small wonder then that Jimmy Jackson copped the title of National Champion Farmer for 2005.
A past student of Mannings High School, with no formal training in agriculture, Mr. Jackson, through sheer hard work and natural ability, now operates the 1,700 acre Negril Spots Farm, in Savanna-la-Mar. The farm has 10,000 chicken layers and broilers, 300 heads of pigs and goats, and 160 heads of cattle.
His other holding, Moreland Hill Farm, a 3,000-acre property, produces vegetables, pumpkin, bananas, plantains, mangoes, pineapples, oranges and sweet peppers. Both farms are operated with the help of his son.
The link between the farms and the hotels is a natural one, with the farms producing all the meat and 90 per cent of other foodstuff in demand by the hotel’s clientele.
And as if that were not enough to keep him fully occupied, Mr. Jackson is also involved in diverse business ventures. In addition to operating his hotel and two farms, he is involved in the ice, water, and lumber businesses. His company, Caribbean Springs, supplies bottled water and party ice to the Negril Tree House and other hotels in the area.
This man of boundless energy is grateful to those who have helped him succeed. “I thank the people of Savanna-la-Mar and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), for their support and help over the past seventeen years,” he tells JIS News.
The Westmoreland born entrepreneur highlights the challenges faced by himself and fellow farmers: “the interest rate of 20 per cent is too high and so cheaper loans should be made available to farmers as an incentive for them to stay on the land,” he points out.
“I continue to urge the government to look at the high interest rates that the banks offer, so that more persons can be encouraged to get involved, as millions of dollars could be saved on cheaper loans to farmers,” he asserts.
The father of six sees a great future for agriculture in Jamaica but does not see a level playing field compared to other islands with the benefit of low interest rates.
Praedial larceny, he notes, is also a significant challenge, as well as an effective deterrent to those who would enter the farming profession. “Many of my hotel friends would love to venture into farming but the praedial thieves are a big drawback,” he notes.
Turning to his personal commitment to the business he says, “I spend a lot of money on my farm because I love it but it is not everyone who can afford to do that.” The astute businessman is also a generous member of his community, as he donates products to the schools and residents in the area, whenever he has a surplus.
Happily, the Champion Farmer is also an environmentally conscious businesses man, planting 7,000 to 8,000 trees per year, on the two farms. “I see [environmental consciousness] as very important down the road for Jamaica. Many farmers neglect the replanting aspect of farming but it is necessary for the environment,” he states. He added, “At the moment I have 25 persons replanting the grass because of the loss suffered during the drought last year”. Being chosen Champion Farmer is an achievement that has made Jimmy Jackson extremely proud and surpasses all his other achievements.
“It means a lot to me, I have invested much in it and I am happy,” he enthuses. “My hard work and determination have paid off,” he says.
“I encourage other hoteliers to go into farming because the two go hand in hand and are two big contributors to the national economy,” Mr. Jackson adds.