JIS News

President of the Cocoa Walk Farmers Group in South Manchester, Hudlyn Pitter, is urging community members, particularly young persons, to become more involved in activities within the area, which are geared at both personal and community development.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Pitter bemoaned the fact that the Cocoa Walk Farmers Group, which was formed on February 18, 1998, has not experienced the magnitude of growth projected, because of the lack of community support.
“The biggest problem we have now is the lack of support from the community. There is an attitude of selfishness, the people are not as united as they should be, and this is holding the project back,” he said.
The Cocoa Walk Farmers Group, was started with the assistance of the Mandeville Weekly and the Poverty Eradication Programme, some 10 years ago. It was formed as a means of tapping into the human and physical resources of the community, to better the lives of persons living there.
Currently, the Group is working on a large-scale cultivation of ‘bull thatch’, which is used in the manufacture of items, such as bags, hats and gazebos. This is being done as part of a project known as Rural Enterprise Agriculture Community Tourism (REACT), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Group is also exploring ways of preserving the flora and fauna found in the area, by adopting environmentally-friendly practices.
In addition to the cultivation of bull thatch, the Group is also involved in greenhouse farming. Members have planted sweet peppers and tomatoes, and are seeking to expand their greenhouse operation, to include crops such as strawberries and string beans, for the local and international markets.