Sun | Feb 17, 2019

Gov’t boosting castor bean cultivation

Published:Monday | February 11, 2019 | 12:11 AM
Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audley Shaw (right) converses with Dr Paul Ivy, associate vice-president, graduate studies, University of Technology, at the institution’s campus in St Andrew.

The Government has identified 2,000 acres of land in Mitchell Town, Clarendon, for castor bean cultivation.

This is expected to significantly boost local production of castor oil, according to Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audley Shaw.

“Exciting times are ahead, and we are going to appropriate and put in technology to make sure that things are done properly,” he said.

The minister was speaking at the launch of the University of Technology’s (UTech) Master of Science in Integrated Rural Development (MIRD) programme at the institution’s campus in St Andrew on February 7.

Shaw said that the castor bean endeavour, earmarked for Mitchell Town, forms part of the Government’s drive to utilise idle lands for wide-ranging cultivation that is expected to boost Jamaica’s economic growth.

To this end, Shaw said that the Government has commenced the process of leasing some of the lands formerly used to grow sugar cane, to cultivate other viable crops.

He emphasised that land where sugar cane production is deemed efficient will remain under cultivation in this regard, adding that “we are not short of applications” for acreages being provided for alternative crops.

“We are now sitting on hundreds of applications for land … it’s exciting. Thousands of acres of lands are going to be leased to applicants who have applied for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shaw commended the CB Group, which manufactures consumer foods, livestock and animal feeds, and crops, for cultivating and producing, among other things, Sea Island cotton.

He pointed out that the group also cultivates 66 acres of onions, slated for reaping within the next two months, sweet corn, and Scotch bonnet peppers.

The minister, in the meantime, lauded UTech for initiating the new postgraduate programme.

A great initiative

“This is a great initiative. This speaks of innovation, of problem-solving, and of the necessary collaboration between academia and government to address the real-life issues associated with the socio-economic development of our country,” he said.

The Master of Science in Integrated Rural Development course aims to produce graduates equipped with the requisite skills and competencies to make sound judgements in solving rural development issues.

The 18-month programme is intended to assist in redressing the persistent state of rural deprivation, by producing experts with a holistic approach to utilising Jamaica’s vast rural potential.

It is the only course of study of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.