Ewarton CBO Embarking on Re-Forestry Initiative


The Government’s message of fostering sustainable agriculture has caught on with at least one community-based organization.
The Ewarton Watershed and Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited, (EWFC) is currently embarking on a re-forestry project to plant approximately 100 acres of fruit trees on Mount Rosser above the town of Ewarton, over two years.
This will be accomplished through the support of the combined funding of $6.9 million with the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) providing $4.8 million and the remaining $2.1 million from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Small Grants Programme.
The EWFC, which began in 1998, and was revitalized in 2004, has 35 members and aims to empower farmers in Ewarton, by enhancing their livelihood, through sound environmental practices.
The project goals for the organization, are to find viable markets for the group; lease accessible land in the Ewarton area; and provide tools, seeds, and fertilizers at a reduced rate.
Chairman of the Society, Starrette Dobson, informs that planting will begin in September, adding that “we intend that by March, we can finish planting 100 (or more) acres.” This reforestation exercise, Mr. Dobson notes, will also rectify the water problems that Ewarton residents have been experiencing, by replenishing the Rio Cobre Watershed.
Mr. Dobson further informs that the project will seek to alleviate the effects of land slippage along Tucker Road in Ewarton, which occurred during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
During the rains, houses were covered with mud and roads were inaccessible. He explains that “there weren’t enough tree roots to hold the soil, so we embarked on this project of seeing how we can replace plants to hold the soil.”
The Coordinator says it is expected that the project will continue beyond the projected period. “We are not planning on stopping there, we are planning on continuing, because what we need to do is document what we have, so that we can spread it across from our community to other adjacent communities, and across the country.”
This document will be shared with other stakeholders and agencies to inform about the process of the project. It will detail the challenges faced, the successes, and how the project was handled. The aim will be to get other persons involved in reforestation projects and provide information for others who may be interested.
Mr. Dobson informs that sustainable agricultural practices will be upheld which will “teach our farmers how best to do farming, so as not to degrade the environment.” He notes that the project will focus mainly on what is called ‘agroforestry’. Agroforestry involves the growing of both trees and agricultural/ horticultural crops on the same area of land. It combines agriculture and forestry technologies to create more integrated, diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems.
“We will be doing lumber trees, but agro-forestry mainly, and what we are looking at is number 11 mangoes, otaheite apples, custard apples, soursop, and ackees, sweetsop, avocado, and tamarind,” Mr. Dobson states.
The Coordinator points out that research has revealed that mango nectar, as well as other nectars, are being imported from Vietnam and other places. He notes that “we intend on seeing how best we can tap into this market locally and alleviate poverty. We are seeing how best we can make our community derive benefits from this. And so that’s why we are going into sustainable agriculture in the sense of doing food crops, instead of just doing lumber crops which some time down the road, may be taken out and we may face the same problem,” Mr. Dobson explains.
The Peace Corps, which is an independent United States federal agency, is also assisting with the implementation of the project. Volunteer, Patty Lyons, also informs that a nursery is being built in Waterloo near Ewarton, and that a nursery manager and assistant will be hired to disseminate these fruit trees. “They are building a nursery, which will house the plants and then be there after the completion of the project, so that more plants can go out to propagate all the above mentioned trees,” she informs.
Also, five demonstration plots will be built to show hillside contouring and plantings; research will be done on fruit trees planted. Additionally, workshops will be held on contouring, growing fruit trees, watershed management, and benefits of saving the soil for future farming.
Vice-Chairman of the EWFC, Brian Perry, notes that “this is an opportunity for the entire community to really rally around something that will be beneficial to us in the long run. The Ewarton Watershed Farmers Cooperative Society, aims to improve the lives of the residents of Ewarton. As we speak about sustainable agriculture, we currently have a greenhouse that will be installed in July at the Ewarton High School to teach both the community and the students about greenhouse technology.” Crops to be cultivated include tomatoes and sweet peppers.
The Society is also working in collaboration with the local 4-H Club to hold workshops on greenhouse management production, to show the benefits of this new farming technology. Workshops will be offered to farmers, high school students and 4H members. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps will provide funding for this venture.
A second project, the revitalization of the farmers market in Ewarton is also underway. This market has been in disrepair since Gilbert in 1988. The Society is now in discussion with the Parish Council to obtain a lease for the market and is currently seeking funding to rebuild the market in phases.
The Peace Corps became involved in the Ewarton Watershed and Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited in August 2006. Each year, Peace Corps officers get involved with local small groups, non-profit organizations, government agencies, other agencies, as well as schools.

JIS Social