Fri | Mar 5, 2021

Earth Today | Westmoreland farmers to earn millions from oyster farm

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2021 | 12:25 AM
Avery Smikle (right), director, Aqua-culture Branch at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, hands over an oyster farming manual to Sherwin Pinnock, a member of the Western Supreme Oyster Farm Group. Looking on is fellow oyster farmer Demetrius Samuel
Avery Smikle (right), director, Aqua-culture Branch at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, hands over an oyster farming manual to Sherwin Pinnock, a member of the Western Supreme Oyster Farm Group. Looking on is fellow oyster farmer Demetrius Samuels.
From Left: Oyster farmers  Sherwin Pinnock and Demetrius Samuels receive equipment for their newly established oyster farm from the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation. Doing the handover is Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore.
From Left: Oyster farmers Sherwin Pinnock and Demetrius Samuels receive equipment for their newly established oyster farm from the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation. Doing the handover is Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore.
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THE NEWLY formed Western Supreme Oyster Farm Group in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, is projected to earn up to $5 million annually from a new oyster farm, which was handed over to them last week.

The oyster farm project is a partnership with the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC), under the Climate Change Adoption and Risk Management Technology and Strategies to Improve Community Resilience (CARTS) project, funded by the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB’s) Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF).

The CDRRF is a multi-donor trust fund with grant resources from Global Affairs Canada and the European Union that is managed by the CDB.

“These three oyster racks are expected to harvest between 2,400 and 6,000 dozen oysters per year, with an expected market value of $2.5 million to $5 million. This livelihood-enhancement initiative will provide income for the 10 members of the oyster farming group, and through the trickle-down effect will benefit hundreds of households in the project communities,” stated Shadae Allen, project manager at the WMC.

She was speaking at the handover ceremony of the oyster farm in Savanna-la-Mar last Friday.

During the ceremony, representatives of the 10 members of the Western Supreme Oyster Farm Group, who participated in the training of oyster farmers by the National Fisheries Authority, were presented with certificates, training manuals, safety gears and harvesting tools.

“These 10 persons trained are pioneers, and the oyster farm increases the assets available within the community and a new opportunity. If managed properly, it will provide employment and an alternative livelihood to many within the community,” said Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, knowledge management and public education consultant with the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund of the CDB.

“We wish them all the best with registering their co-operative and rolling out as a business. We have done training on business management to provide the basic skills. So, it is very rewarding to be seeing the fruits,” she added.

WMC Monitoring

Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore has cautioned oyster farmers that the farm will be monitored by the WMC.

“Don’t think that we won’t be watching over it, because we want to ensure that the project runs smooth. So, don’t think because we say it is in the hands of the farmers, we are just going to leave it that way,” he warned.

Moore charged the famers to recognise the value of the project.

“Farming oyster can be beneficial to a family. If you operate the farm properly, you can feed your family. Take this programme seriously. Don’t play around with it,” he said.

“I would say that the money that was used is money that should be used in the right and proper way. And the right and proper way is for you farmers to ensure that it is profitable to you and the rest of the farmers,” Moore added.

President of the Western Supreme Oyster Farm Group, Demetrius Samuels, gave the commitment that his group will do well enough to provide employment for members of the community.

“I would like to see a well-established, well-managed oyster industry that provides employment for a lot of persons, especially young people. That is why we are putting all our effort in it to make it a success,” he said.