JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The IDB official said she visited the farm on Tuesday March 24, and was impressed with the “transformation” that is taking place, with 300 women working, and the St. Elizabeth Co-operative Credit Union offering “impressive” loans of ten percent to the farmers.
  • Mrs. Turner Jones reported that the farmers recently signed a contract with a United Kingdom (UK) wholesaler for over two million pounds of sweet potato, noting that the small farmers use contracts that they have with suppliers to obtain loans of up to US$2000 from the credit union.

Farmers at the New Forrest/Duff House Agro Park, on the boarder of Manchester and St. Elizabeth, are progressing well according to Country Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Theresa Tuner-Jones.

The IDB official said she visited the farm on Tuesday March 24, and was impressed with the “transformation” that is taking place, with 300 women working, and the St. Elizabeth Co-operative Credit Union offering “impressive” loans of ten percent to the farmers.

“These farmers can’t get enough lands to cultivate their crops on. Everybody is very keen to come into the Agro Park, because they are provided with new irrigation system, which is increasing the yields,” Mrs. Turner-Jones said.

She was addressing the launch of COK Solidarity Co-operative Credit Union Micro Finance Unit, in St. Andrew, on March 25.

Mrs. Turner Jones reported that the farmers recently signed a contract with a United Kingdom (UK) wholesaler for over two million pounds of sweet potato, noting that the small farmers use contracts that they have with suppliers to obtain loans of up to US$2000 from the credit union.

“That is what micro financing can do. It is changing lives in St. Elizabeth,” she told the gathering.

She later told JIS News that the targets that the IDB envisioned from the Agro Park project are being met, and the Bank will be willing to help the Government expand the Agro Park model.

“We are meeting our targets; we are overwhelmed in terms of the response. It augurs well for expanding the Agro Park model to other farmers.”

Emphasizing that at the outset of the Agro Parks, many persons doubted its success, while adding that “here we have a really good model that is working.”

“The Agro Park model is working, and we would like to be in a position, if asked by the Government, to scale it up. Jobs are being created very quickly, this is a kind of transformative area that we would like to be in,” she said.

Mrs. Turner-Jones also lauded the Farmers in Yallahs in St Thomas, for their growing of onions.

The primary objective of the Agro Parks initiative is to bring under-utilised rural land and labour into a more efficient agricultural production system. As a result, crops are being produced at competitive prices to facilitate import substitution, enhance the agricultural supply chain, deepen industrial linkages and increase food security.