JIS News

The St. Thomas Technical High School, in Golden Grove, St. Thomas, is attempting to resuscitate its banana cultivation, which was damaged during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav.
Principal, Phillip Wilson, told JIS News, that losses sustained totalled some $25,000, adding that the institution was in the process of rehabilitating the damaged crop. Efforts to this end include: the pruning of trees, and clearing the one-acre plot of debris.
According to Mr. Wilson, most of the trees will be replanted with assistance from the Eastern Banana Estates Limited. The principal said the company has always provided technical support and planting material, since the school commenced banana cultivation.
“We have already approached Eastern Banana, and they are giving us suckers. So, as soon as we get them, we will be replanting,” Mr. Wilson informed, adding that the plot would be slightly bigger in size to the previous.
Due to the decline in markets, Mr. Wilson said it would be unprofitable for the school to produce the crop on a larger scale.
“It is not profitable now to go into it. It is very expensive to produce, and one has to be careful in the handling of it for export,” he explained.
He said the fruit was usually sold to market vendors from surrounding communities, as well as students and teachers at the school.
In addition to banana cultivation, the growing of cash crops, and goat and poultry rearing, also form part of the school’s curriculum.
Mr. Wilson said the first batch of 500 chickens was slaughtered on September 3, with a second scheduled for slaughtering within the next two weeks.
“We are starting on the third and fourth batches. The chicklets are supposed to come in tomorrow, to produce the third and fourth batches,” Mr. Wilson said pointing out that the chickens were purchased by the school’s canteen.