The Government is to make more idle State-owned lands available for cultivation by small farmers.
This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, who noted that the Administration is in dialogue with various organisations in order to facilitate this undertaking.
The Minister, who was making his contribution to the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (July 1), informed that the higher acreages are mainly located in Manchester, Portland and St. Mary.
The lands include 5,000 acres in Alvie and Canoe Valley, as well as 30 acres in Alligator Pond in Manchester; 1,200 acres in Nonsuch and Unity Farm in St. Mary; 166 acres in Enfield in Westmoreland; 119 acres in Parbuckle Wharf in Hanover; 300 acres in Dundee, Trelawny; and the Muirton property in Portland.
In the meantime, Mr. Hutchinson noted that under the Government’s land utilisation policy, several parcels of land are being diversified for agricultural production.
He noted that the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings has continued to recover lands from failed privatisation efforts, including in Long Pond, Trelawny, where more than 10,600 acres of land are now being leased for productive endeavours.
“Of that amount, some 4,000 acres [are] being made available to small famers in the area for cultivation,” he said.
In addition, 635 acres of former cane land are being used by Organic Growth Holdings Incorporated for the growing of medicinal hemp to be used in the production of cannabidiol (CBD) oils.
He further noted that 8,300 acres of land at Golden Grove in St. Thomas are also being transitioned into other agricultural production “and the small farmers are not being left out”
Turning to the Holland Agro-Economic Zone being developed on former sugar cane lands in St. Elizabeth, now leased by Holland Producers Ltd., Mr. Hutchinson noted that this initiative is the “embryo in facilitating the road map to a sustainable agricultural production and food security development programme in Jamaica”.
He said that small farmers are currently engaged in the cultivation of a variety of crops, including papaya, melon, squash, zucchini and cantaloupe, on 1,212 acres of the 2,400-acre property.
Mr. Hutchinson further informed that 91 tonnes of crops were produced on the property between March and June this year, with at least one farmer earning up to $1.2 million per fortnight.