Colbeck scheme poses no threat to Bodles
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, has put to rest speculation that a large section of the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine is at risk of being carved up to facilitate The Villages of Colbeck Castle Phases 1 and 2, a housing development for which a billboard on the property lists the National Housing Trust (NHT) as developer.
"As far as I know, no housing development will impact Bodles. Nothing has come to me to ask for any permission to go through Bodles," he told The Gleaner last Wednesday, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Jamaica and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, at the ministry's New Kingston office. This is to facilitate the establishment of the first of six seed-storage facilities across the region to house the seeds of climate-resilient crop varieties.
He continued: "There was a previous development, could be the same one, where it was contemplated that some road would go through and would have impacted part of the research station. In 2016, we had a meeting down there, including with the member of parliament, Minister [Everald Warmington], and he saw how it would have impacted our banana research station and it was immediately accepted that that course of action was no longer viable. That's the last I heard of that, so any new development would not have come across me."
Warmington was then minister of state in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation when the NHT received approval to build an access road through the research station property to facilitate a housing development, as well as provide access to two schools, also on the drawing board.
However, after the Banana Board appealed to Warmington and took him on a tour to see how the planned housing development would have destroyed at least 16 acres of banana production and nursery fields, he ordered that plans to carry the road through the property be scrapped.
"They deviated from the plan. This is not what was agreed. I would never have allowed them to run a road through the Banana Breeding Research Station," he said.
However, the subsequent erection of the billboard and its placement at the entrance to the research station has rekindled fears that the facility is again under threat of going on the chopping block.