KINGSTON — The Hounslow post-harvest and packaging facility in St. Elizabeth is to be opened by early June, says Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton.
He said that the 8,800-square foot plant, which will be operated by GraceKennedy Limited, will serve as a “buying house for agricultural produce, where value will be created through post-harvest management."
“We expect that markets will be tapped into, not just here in Jamaica, but external markets, and hopefully offer and additional outlet for production,” Dr. Tufton said at a press conference at his Hope Gardens office earlier this week to announce domestic food crop production figures for the first quarter of the year.
The Ministry and GraceKennedy signed the 15-year lease on September 9, 2010, under which the private sector company will equip and manage the facility at $2.1 million per annum, and contract farmers to produce to meet its operational needs.
“It is a beneficial relationship in a number of respects,” Dr. Tufton said. He noted that the Hounslow area “is perhaps one of the most fertile areas in Jamaica and it has one of the largest irrigation infrastructure in the country (well over 3,000 acres of land). For all those reasons, there are several advantages to be gained."
The $49-million Hounslow packaging house was constructed under the Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project, a collaboration of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Government.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton, last week, broke ground for a similar $34 million post-harvest facility in Coleyville, Manchester.
“Again, it will be private-sector operated and will hopefully assist the post-management of our produce, working with farmers, and tapping into markets that go beyond traditional marketing outlets,” he informed.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter