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Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C Hutchinson, is calling on St. Mary farmers to make greater use of the abundance of idle lands in the parish.

“St. Mary… has the most idle lands as a parish in the island… and that means you are not farming (enough)… We’re sending out the challenge for you to get it going,” he said.

“We need the land to grow agriculture to feed the nation, grow the economy… . The potential is here in the parish for you to grow agriculture,” he added, while delivering the keynote address at the launch of the Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise greenhouse project in Cromwell in the parish on Wednesday (February 27).

Mr. Hutchinson said that the Ministry and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) St. Mary office are looking into making lands in the parish available for interested farmers and investors.

“One of the lands we have identified that we are going to put people on immediately is in Nonsuch; a property of over 700 acres. We are going to make sure that farmers go on that land so that they can start cultivating and making St. Mary the second largest producing parish in the island,” he said.

Mr. Hutchinson said he wants to see St. Mary competing with St. Elizabeth for the highest agriculture production annually. He noted that St. Mary has the advantage of getting more rainfall than St. Elizabeth.

The Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise greenhouse project is aimed at providing employment with emphasis on sustainable agricultural farming.

The enterprise group, formed in April 2016 with funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, is geared towards increasing the engagement of women in agriculture.

It has provided training in greenhouse farming for eight teachers from St. Mary Technical High, Marymount High School for Girls and Albion Mountain Primary School.