JIS News

State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Victor Cummings, has said that for the Rural Physical Planning Division this year, the focus would be on the development of an education programme to sensitise stakeholders on the need for proper soil fertility management, so as to increase food production.
He also noted that attention would be given to the implementation of legislation and guidelines to prevent further fragmentation and improper use of prime agricultural lands.
Mr. Cummings was making his contribution to the 2006/07 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 26.
The State Minister pointed out that the Division would seek to increase the incorporation of technology, for example the Geographic Information System (GIS); develop a land bank consisting of all agricultural land parcels, agricultural suitability and ownership information; forge closer ties with international organisations; ensure that the soil laboratory is accredited on an on-going basis; and procure new equipment and provide training for the laboratory staff.
Commenting on public gardens, the State Minister said that the business plans for the redevelopment of gardens and zoo at Hope Gardens are completed, and the Nature Preservation Foundation (NPF) is currently in negotiations with several donor agencies for funds.
The management of the Hope Estate in Hope Gardens, Hope Zoo and adjoining lands, was handed over to the NPF on May 16.
Mr. Cummings pointed out that $27 million has been spent so far on the restoration of Castleton Gardens, damaged by hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Emily.
He also spoke of projects to restore Cinchona Gardens Great House and other facilities, and the Bath Gardens. Work has also commenced on the restoration of the Holland Bamboo in St. Elizabeth, he added.
The State Minister noted that consultations are being held with the Forestry Department to rehabilitate Fern Gully in St. Ann, which sustained damage during hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Emily.