Three Greenhouse technology projects are to be established at three institutions in St. Ann.
Chief Technical Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton (right) and President of Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners (NJBP), Pansy Johnson break ground at the Aboukir Institute, Aboukir, St. Ann, recently to launch the School Greenhouse Technology Project.
Funds for the greenhouses, which will be set up at Aboukir Institute, Brown's Town High and York Castle High Schools, will be provided by Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners (NJBP), formerly St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Partners. Other partners in the project are the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Ministry of Education and Jamaica Greenhouse Farmers Association.
Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton, and President of NJBP, Pansy Johnson, recently broke ground at Aboukir Institute, where the first greenhouse will be constructed.
Speaking at the ceremony, Miss Johnson said the project was an indication of NJBP's commitment to agricultural education. She said it was also a move by the company "to assist in transforming the way agriculture is practised in our schools."
She pointed out that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been advocating the use of Greenhouse technology in an effort to increase Jamaica's agricultural output.
"We applaud the Ministry for these efforts and today we are here signaling our commitment to work with them to achieve these objectives. We sincerely believe that the idea of starting this programme in our schools is a sound one; one that will definitely sow the seeds that will eventually germinate and before long our country will be benefiting from the fruits," she said.
Giving a brief outline of the project, she said the size of each greenhouse will be 30×100 feet.
"We have already signed contracts for these three houses and they will cost us approximately US$40,000 each," she added.
NJBP will donate planting materials and fertilizer to the schools. Additionally, the company will monitor and provide on-going supervision of the projects. In September, NJBP will begin school garden projects at primary and all age schools in the parish and those schools that are successful will receive incentives, according to Miss Johnson.
In his address, Chief Technical Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton, congratulated NJBP and agencies involved in the project for their efforts in helping to teach agriculture to young people "in a modern technological way."
Dr. Panton also commended NJBP for constructing some 14 greenhouses for farmers in the parish. "We have heard that they have been involved in some 14 greenhouses and have plans to further expand that. And it is something I would encourage all our bauxite partners, in addition to other private sector members, to engage in," he said.
He said the Ministry's goal is to increase productivity through the use of modern technology. "Anyone who is involved in Greenhouse technology has a significant role to play in terms of food security," he added.
Principal of Aboukir Institute, Deville McHugh, in an interview with JIS News said that the facility would improve the delivery of agricultural education at the institution. He said that it would also serve as a training ground for students who might want to embark on Greenhouse production.
"This will go a far way in improving the delivery of education and we look forward to reaping success with NJBP and the support of other stakeholders," he said.