JIS News

The first phase of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute’s programme to use reclaimed lands for the production of scotch bonnet peppers is now underway in Burnt Ground, St. Ann.
Community and Public Relations Co-ordinator at the St. Ann Bauxite Company, Kent Skyers, told JIS News that the initiative, dubbed the Walkerswood Pepper project, involves small farmers planting scotch bonnet peppers on mined-out bauxite lands, which are then sold to Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, thereby creating income-earning opportunities for the farmers.
Mr. Skyers informed that under the first phase of the project, some 10 farmers will each receive a 0.6 hectare plot (1.5 acres) to plant peppers, and as the project progresses, more land will be put into production.
“What is being done now is that a six hectare (15-acre) pilot area is being prepared for planting. Some amount of production has already have been planting seedlings since the start of May. We intend to have the entire 15-acre area in Burnt Ground planted with scotch bonnet peppers,” he informed.
According to Mr. Skyers “we want to put (40 hectares) 100 acres of land into production. Walkerswood has said to us that all the farmers can produce, we can take it. We are trying to have this area of St. Ann really turned into a pepper- growing zone and once you want pepper you can say, ‘let’s go to St. Ann’,” he stated.
The Community and Public Relations Co-ordinator pointed out that while it is early days yet, the response from farmers in and around the Burnt Ground area has been favourable.
“The response has been very good.a lot of farmers in this location are quite enthusiastic and based on the experience in growing other crops, they know that they will be very successful in producing good quality peppers,” he said. Mr. Skyers indicated that by year-end, there should be a high demand for scotch bonnet peppers and has appealed to more farmers to become involved in the programme.
“We want more farmers to be involved as we expect good results from this programme. We expect that by year-end .we should be having quiet a large volume of peppers being produced from this property. The market is ready and once you produce the peppers, you should not have a problem with disposing it,” he pointed out.

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