More than 400 acres of former sugar cane lands in St. Thomas will be made available to small farmers in the parish for the growing of cash crops.
“We are looking to move certain lands from sugar cane into crash crops. The small farmers…who are ensuring food security and keeping the economy going, are the ones who will benefit,” said Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson.
Minister Hutchinson, who was addressing farmers at the St. Thomas Technical High School on Friday (July 3), informed that Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Limited is making the lands available to the farmers through the All-Island Cane Farmers’ Association.
He noted that the farmers, most of whom are former sugar workers, will also benefit from the setting up of an agro economic zone in the Plantation Garden River area.
He said that several ago-processors have expressed interest in the project, which will include processing facilities and an area where farmers can sell their produce.
Managing Director of SCJ Holdings, Joseph Shoucair, said that while 400 acres of lands have been earmarked for the growing of cash crops “more can be added, if required.”
“These are agricultural lands; they are to be used for agricultural purposes, not for building of houses and commercial activities,” he emphasised.
Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Thomas, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, in his remarks, welcomed the support for the former cane workers.
Some 65,000 acres of former sugar cane lands across the island, managed by SCJ Holdings, are being redirected into agriculture and other industries.