Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the process to use former sugar lands for the cultivation of other viable crops has begun.
“Over the next several months, thousands of acres of land are going to be allocated and leased to private-sector personnel, hundreds of whom have sent applications to me as Minister,” he said, while addressing the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Investments and Capital Markets Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (January 24).
He noted that the lands will be utilised to cultivate crops such as castor beans for the production of castor oil.
Mr. Shaw said this local investment in the crop is welcomed, given the fact that castor oil products “are being made overseas claiming to be made in Jamaica (yet) the raw materials don’t come from Jamaica, but there is something about the exoticness of Jamaica”.
He noted that investors have also expressed interest in producing Sea Island cotton, mango and coconut, which are in global demand.
Mr. Shaw pointed to opportunity for the production of bamboo as an alternative to plastics that are now banned in Jamaica.
“We can produce paper, we can produce wrapping material – all kinds of things that degrade within 60 days to 100 days instead of plastics that will lie around and clog up our oceans, (harm) our marine life (and so on),” he said.
The Minister commended the CB Group, which specialises in consumer foods, livestock and animal feeds and crops, for taking over “substantial acreages of land” to produce Sea Island cotton, sweet peppers, sweet corn, Scotch bonnet peppers, noting that “they are leading the way”.
Held under the theme ‘Expanding our Borders: Securing our Future’, the conference, which ran from January 22 to 24, sought to examine areas of growth, challenges and advancements that are shaping societies and world economies.
It also looked at how economies and businesses can best manage such rapid changes and capitalise on opportunities for progress.
The three-day conference brought together world-class leaders and industry experts, who shared their success and secrets and demystified complex topics into common language that business people and professionals from every sector can understand.