The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI)/Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Greenhouse Cluster and Water Harvesting Project is being hailed as an example of sustainable land use in post-mining areas.
The project, being implemented under the World Bank-funded Rural Economic Development Initiative II (REDI II), which is administered by JSIF, seeks to enhance bauxite communities by encouraging the productive use of mined-out lands for agriculture.
Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Audley Shaw, said that the initiative has proven to be of major benefit to farmers and the communities in which they are being undertaken.
He noted that the project partners share a common goal of poverty reduction and increasing the earning potential of rural people, especially farmers.
Minister Shaw was speaking during a recent tour of the Content greenhouse cluster in Manchester.
Some 20 farmers are a part of the cluster, established in 2017 under the first phase of REDI, where they are cultivating vegetable crops, which are sold to hotels and other large buyers.
In March 2021, JSIF and JBI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for implementation of the second phase of the Water Harvesting and Greenhouse Cluster Project under REDI II, which supports and finances community-level projects in the areas of agriculture and tourism in rural Jamaica.
It is aimed at improving agriculture and tourism linkages, enhancing access to markets, and strengthening climate-resilient approaches for targeted beneficiaries.
Some 320 greenhouse farmers and their households, including vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities, are slated to benefit from the initiative over a five-year period.
Approximately 300 greenhouses are expected to be constructed in mined-out lands across multiple parishes supported by repurposed bauxite pits for rainwater harvesting to increase vegetable crop production.
The project will provide wider benefits to communities in terms of greater food availability, employment opportunities, and economic development through entrepreneurship revenue-generation; crop production that is resilient to climate change; and increased production capacity to respond to greater market demand.
Minister Shaw said the Water Harvesting and Greenhouse Cluster Project has proven to be one of the single largest investments made in small-scale commercial agriculture in rural Jamaica, and is comparable to the agro-parks programme, both in terms of its potential economic and social impact and total coverage.
He commended the JBI for its continuous monitoring and assistance to the clusters.
He noted that the JBI’s nursery was the provider of seedlings for the start-up of the initial 160 greenhouses under the first phase of REDI, implemented between 2010 and 2017, and continues to supply the clusters when orders are received on a commercial arrangement.
“Upon review, the programme was deemed a success, and its sustainability was one of the reasons why the World Bank has lent further support by way of REDI II, which is also administered by JSIF,” the Minister said.
He noted that the project is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise from the full recovery of the tourism and entertainment sectors.