Ministry Pursuing Productive Use of Mined Bauxite Lands

The Ministry of Energy and Mining is pursuing the productive utilisation of rehabilitated mined out bauxite lands for agricultural initiatives, State Minister, Hon. Laurence Broderick, has announced.
This comes against the background of concerns resonating “over several decades” and heightened by the onset of the global economic recession, of the need to find solutions to improve the standard of living, particularly in rural areas.
Making his presentation in the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 21), Mr. Broderick said that information available to his Ministry suggests that the Government currently owns approximately 5,515.65 hectares of certified rehabilitated bauxite lands, located primarily in Manchester and St. Ann.
Alluding to World Bank representative Dr. Badrul Haque’s report to Parliament on July 7, which stated that the indigent in the rural areas have not benefitted significantly from the decline in national poverty levels, Mr. Broderick said the Ministry was mindful that rural poverty remains high in Jamaica.
“In this vein, over the past year, we at the Ministry have been seeking to identify the status of mined out bauxite lands that have been rehabilitated for developmental purposes,” he said.
The State Minister pointed out that Jamaica’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030, mandates the Government to make sequential land use a priority, and to integrate the development of mineral resources with overall land use planning and national development.
He added that there is an attendant focus on the promotion of food security, through a diverse range of agricultural activities, including higher value-added production.
Noting that mined out lands have, traditionally, been used for agriculture, Mr. Broderick cited St. Ann Bauxite Limited (SABL), Alumina Partners (ALPART) and West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO), as the primary entities that have maintained vibrant agricultural programmes.
With upwards of 3,000 hectares of land being utilised under tenant farming programmes, he said the annual yield of crops cultivated has totalled in excess of 700,000 pounds. These crops include; cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet pepper, sweet potato and cassava.
The programmes are being supported by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI) and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute’s (JBI) Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP).
“BCDP activities are central to achieving our objectives, regarding the productive use of mined-out lands by funding crop and livestock programmes, promoting appropriate technologies and practices and planting materials suited for mined out lands,” he stated.
Mr. Broderick cited Phase I of the Essex Valley Crop Production Project in St. Elizabeth, as an example of a successful BCDP venture undertaken on mined out lands.
“This project has, so far, involved some 250 small farmers and has generated some $6 million in earnings,” he outlined. Similar projects have included the Mocho Crop Production Project, Clarendon and the Walkerswood Pepper Project, St. Ann.
In keeping with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ promotion of the technology, Mr. Broderick informed the House that the BCDP is implementing a number of greenhouse projects in Haddon and Burnt Ground in St. Ann.
“These projects are being implemented in collaboration with the Christiana Potato Growers Association (in Manchester), RADA, and US (Jamaica) Farms Limited (and) are to be expanded and replicated in other mined-out areas,” he advised.

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