The Greenhouse Technology Incubator project, aimed at putting mined out lands in St. Ann back into agriculturally productive and profitable use, was officially launched today (November 23), at a press briefing, held at the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), in Kingston.
Speaking at the press launch and signing ceremony, Executive Director of the JBI, Mr. Parris A. Lyew-Ayee, explained that the JBI has been working for many years on scientific studies to show how bauxite reclaimed lands can be used productively.
“We have demonstrated, without a doubt, that with proper management, with good technical knowhow and proper use of water, that this can be done and one of the avenues we realised pretty early was the use of greenhouses,” Mr. Lyew-Ayee said.
Under the signed agreement JBI, Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, (formerly St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Partners), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) , and CDC Development Solutions (CDS), the participants intend to: establish a small farmer protected agriculture cluster on mined out lands managed by the Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners (NJBP) in Water Valley, St. Ann; and establish alternative income generation opportunities to both complement and improve the income earning capacity of farmers impacted by mining.
The partners will also develop a template for further income and community development opportunities in previously mined out areas, which will be promoted for adoption and expansion by the JBI.
In his address, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the project will enhance the quality of life of those persons who are directly involved and assist with the further development of the agricultural sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), gives a listening ear to Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Karen Hilliard, at the launch of the Greenhouse Technology Incubator Project, at the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, today (November 23).
“One of the areas that I think requires particular emphasis, particularly amongst our small farmers, is the need to approach farming as a business as opposed to a welfare activity. There is a temptation among our smaller players, perhaps because of a lack of technical support, which we must correct, to view agriculture as just a survival mechanism as opposed to an activity that allows one to generate some amount of wealth,” the Minister said.
“What I certainly hope for is that in pursuing and exposing farmers to this technology, accompanying that will be a programme that will help to explain critical fundamentals of business, principles I think will allow one to be sustainable. I think sustainability has to be a critical theme,” he emphasised.
Mission Director of the USAID, Dr. Karen Hilliard, said her organisation was pleased to be partnering with the Government of Jamaica, private sector partners and other stakeholders to develop “this improved land restoration model, which will lead to increased economic opportunities for residents of communities where mining took place.”
“A group of industrious farmers now operate the project site and I was told that they were significantly challenged by the environmental conditions in the area, which made it harder to produce at first. I want to commend the farmers for their drive and commitment. They showed us that with the right training and the right technical assistance, they can create a thriving enterprise. This one greenhouse is expected to generate net revenue of $1million annually,” she pointed out.
In his remarks, Chairman of Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, Mr. Larry Holley, said the company has always sought ways to improve the lives of residents in mining communities.
“This project certainly enhances that objective. This development will enable our farmers to move more confidently into contractual arrangements with the purchasers of those agricultural goods. It will mitigate the effects of droughts, infestations and other factors that have stood in the way of this type of arrangement,” Mr. Holley said.
“It is well known that the north coast has a lot of hotels and we are of the view that this project will open the door to our famers to become major and consistent suppliers of those hotels,” he added.