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Story Highlights

  • More than 150 farmers from the parishes of Hanover and St. James stand to benefit from the establishment of the Hazelymph/Seven Rivers agro park, which will grow bananas for export to the United Kingdom (UK) market.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been working closely with key agencies and stakeholders to establish the facility, which will supply the overseas market under the Banana Export Expansion Programme (BEEP).
  • BEEP, which is being undertaken at a cost of $250 million, is aimed at boosting the production of banana for export.

More than 150 farmers from the parishes of Hanover and St. James stand to benefit from the establishment of the Hazelymph/Seven Rivers agro park, which will grow bananas for export to the United Kingdom (UK) market.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been working closely with key agencies and stakeholders to establish the facility, which will supply the overseas market under the Banana Export Expansion Programme (BEEP).

BEEP, which is being undertaken at a cost of $250 million, is aimed at boosting the production of banana for export.

Funding is being provided under the European Union (EU)-supported Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAMS), with the Banana Board as the implementing agency.

“Banana is on the rebound and the European Union has put lot of money in programmes to help us to resuscitate the banana programme islandwide,” said Portfolio Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier.

He was speaking during a tour of proposed agro-park project sites in the south eastern section of Hanover, recently.

Minister Kellier said the farmers can be secure in their investment, based on the huge demand for Jamaican banana in UK.

“We are back into the fresh produce market in the United Kingdom,” he said, while pointing to additional prospects coming out of a recent investment trip to the UK.

Minister Kellier noted that the establishment of the Hazelymph agro park is vital to the resurgence of banana production in the western end of the island, where the industry once thrived.

He noted that already, farmers in the hills of St. James “in areas like Maroon Town, Flagstaff, Kensington areas going down to Amity Hall, Stapleton and those places all the way up to Horse Guard and Garlands, are back into banana big time.”

The Hazelymph farmers, who are undergoing farm management training, are also in the process of becoming a registered co-operative and are receiving technical support from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) parish extension services.

Project Development Director of the Agro Investment Corporation (AIC), Courtney Cole, also assured the farmers of the AIC’s commitment to assisting them with establishing viable and sustainable agri-businesses.

“The business plan is being worked on; it is quite advanced. The infrastructure designs are taking place and irrigation is going to be simply to move water from the already existing systems that the NIC (National Irrigation Commission) has already developed … here,” he pointed out.

“We will bring to you, the capacity development that you require so that you will move to a higher level of management to engage your stakeholders and (your) input suppliers, he noted.

Bananas that do not make the grade for export will be supplied to the local market, while the banana chips factory in Maroon Town will also absorb some of the fruit.