Mined-out lands to return to production - Mike Henry sees potential for agriculture
Transport and Mining Minister Mike Henry has said mined-out bauxite lands across the island will be returned to productive use, especially in the area of agriculture.
During a tour of two water-harvesting and greenhouse cluster projects in St Ann last week, Henry said he is determined to ensure that the lands are returned to the people of Jamaica with a view to adding value to their lives.
The projects, which are under the auspices of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund's (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), are located in Watt Town and Tobolski in South West St Ann and involve some 160 farmers and over 40 greenhouses.
Other greenhouses are located in Schwallenburgh and Nine Miles in St Ann; Content, Blue Mountain and Rose Hill in Manchester, and Myersville in St Elizabeth.
The overall project is worth $243 million, with $173 million coming from JSIF and $61 million from the JBI. The farmers are engaged in the cultivation of eight crops, including sweet peppers and tomatoes for the hotel sector.
Henry said one of his ministry's top priorities is to return more lands, including untouched bauxite lands, to the farmers who are to be put into production.
He said the partnership between the stakeholders in establishing the greenhouse clusters and water harvesting projects in Watt Town and Tobolski must be commended and improved.
The minister congratulated the farmers for the job they have been doing on the mined-out bauxite lands in the two communities and encouraged them to continue to make the best productive use of the property which has been returned to them.
Henry highlighted the impor-tance of the farmers working as a group to implement the project as well as the high level of production achieved.
He also encouraged the farmers to move into the value-added market, where the shelf life of their produce can be extended.