- Farmers in a number of bauxite mining communities should benefit from greenhouse technologies, through a $192 million project, a collaboration between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI).
- Crops to be grown under the venture, dubbed the Greenhouse Cluster and Water Harvesting Project, include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, culinary herbs, romaine lettuce, coloured sweet peppers and tomatoes, among others, which are in high demand by the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors.
- For Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, the investment is one of the largest made in rural communities in Jamaica, and the farmers have received a rare opportunity that they must protect.
Farmers in a number of bauxite mining communities should benefit from greenhouse technologies, through a $192 million project, a collaboration between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI).
The project involves conversion of mined-out lands to water reservoirs to be used for irrigation, where greenhouses are constructed for agricultural production, benefitting some 160 farmers who will pass on the technology to surrounding communities in St. Elizabeth, Manchester and St. Ann.
“It is going to work very well, and we are working hard towards it,” says Angela Lawrence, a farmer from Manchester, in an interview with JIS News.
She says that based on the training that was provided for the participants in the project, farming in the area will improve.
Urging young people in the communities where the initiative is being implemented, to make use of the opportunity, Miss Lawrence says the greenhouse will be a big benefit for her.
Crops to be grown under the venture, dubbed the Greenhouse Cluster and Water Harvesting Project, include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, culinary herbs, romaine lettuce, coloured sweet peppers and tomatoes, among others, which are in high demand by the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors.
Chairman of the Alpart Community Council, in St. Elizabeth, Lenworth Blake, foresees self-sufficiency for the beneficiary communities, as well as farmers reaping long-term benefits in the technologies that are to be passed on from the high-tech farming project.
“The greenhouses are going to be built in the Myersville area, the ponds are now being put in, and it is going to mean a significant economic benefit to a lot of people. After the 20 farmers have been equipped with the technology, they will go back to their respective districts and teach other farmers how greenhouse management is done. More farmers will be independent,” Mr. Blake tells JIS News.
One of the aims of the project is to empower communities which have bauxite operations, so that the residents can have sustainable income in the period called ‘life after bauxite.’
In 1997 the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) set up the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP), to spearhead projects during the era when mining would have reduced economic impact on communities.
The BCDP is a major partner in the Greenhouse Cluster and Water Harvesting Project, with its mandate to reinvest earnings from the bauxite/alumina industry in communities affected by mining activities, by implementing long term income generating, infrastructural and training projects as a means of balancing the negative impacts of the alumina industry.
Welcoming the project, Mayor of Mandeville, Councillor Brenda Ramsey, says given the competing interests for land in housing development, and other necessities, it is crucial that modern technology be used for agricultural production.
The Mayor says mined out lands can be used for farming and water harvesting, and the project will help the parish to achieve an economic turnaround.
“Putting mined out lands to productive and profitable use is a critical aspect of land management in the bauxite alumina industry. This project along with our Agro Parks, will give a new life to farming in Manchester,” Mrs. Ramsey reasons.
For Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, the investment is one of the largest made in rural communities in Jamaica, and the farmers have received a rare opportunity that they must protect.
“With the assistance provided by JBI and JSIF, including the critical protection from drought, the training, the relevant infrastructure, you have a responsibility to ensure that you take care of the greenhouses. Manage your production and business transactions diligently,” the State Minister told the farmers at a function in Manchester.
Drip irrigation systems, pesticide storage facilities, food storage facilities and bathroom facilities have been provided at the greenhouse sites.
The farmers have received training in business management, greenhouse production, water management, and marketing.
“We encourage you to pay close attention to the training given,” General Manager of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, told the farmers.
“You are also being encouraged to work with your local group to ensure that the greenhouses and equipment are maintained to the required standard,” he added.
Land Restoration and Tennant Administrator, at Windalco, Glaister Dunkley, said the project would result in better produce, as well as foster community spirit.
“It is a way of getting into the communities a higher source of income. We are getting this into a concentrated area, where their management skills in pest and disease control will be improved, so that the farmers can get a better yield,” Mr. Dunkley says.
Declaring that his company unreservedly supports the project, Managing Director at Rusal Alpart Jamaica, Timothy O’Driscoll, says the most enduring legacy Alpart can build “is one of self empowerment by individuals through agriculture, education, community development, which will lead to the enhancement of the human capacity.”
Other partners in the project are the National Irrigation Commission, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and JSIF, through its Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).