Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Portland farmer happy dry spell is over

Published:Saturday | October 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Farmer Alston Young with two bunches of bananas he reaped from his farm in Portland.-PHOTO BY GARETH DAVIS

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

ORANGE BAY, Portland:BATTERED BY the recent drought which lasted for the better part of seven months, 63-year-old Alston Young, a farmer in Portland is attempting to rekindle his livelihood.

Young, who is one of the farmers who benefited under the land lease arrangement initiated by former Prime Minister Michael Manley in the 1970s, occupies two and a half acres of farm land at Lennox in Orange Bay.

"It is a fertile piece of property. Farming is my life, pride, and joy, and it not only allows me to feed my family and pay bills, but it also allows me to feed other residents. The two and a half acre property, which is registered with the Rural Agriculture Development Authority, is heavily utilised with full-bearing coconut trees, banana, plantain, yam, tomato, mangoes, avocado, and pepper," Young told Rural Xpress.

dent in earning

The farmer said he is determined to continue his livelihood which was badly affected by the recent drought, where he lost more than a hundred banana crops, plantains, tomatoes, and coconuts, which were either abnormal in size or scorched.

But while admitting that the loss has created a serious dent in his earning, Young, who was spotted with two bunches of green bananas, noted that they were being reserved for a friend who he assists from time to time with farm produce, as that friend, another farmer, is in a far worse position than he is.

Young said during the peak of his farming, he is able to sell his fruits and vegetables in large proportion to residents, tourists, and persons from other parishes who place their orders on a weekly basis.

"I started farming at age 21 years and I have been occupying the property at Lennox since 1976, where I have invested time, energy, and money. Farming is still relevant as it not only provides food for people in Jamaica, but farm produce can still be viable for export, which allows the Government to collect much-needed revenue. It has not been easy, especially the last seven or so months, but since the rains have returned, farmers can now return to what they do best," Young added.