FARMING IS being offered as a new frontier for job creation and employment in Granville and surrounding areas in St James, which have become tainted by notorious vices such as the illicit lotto scam in recent years.
On Tuesday, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) held a farming-employment forum at Jasper's Common in Retirement, with residents of Granville, Pitfour, Retirement and St Johns, during which the idea was broached to them.
The initiative was inspired by the efforts of the Granville Peace, Justice and Resource Development Foundation and the Retirement Development Trust.
Dave Allen, community activist and chairman of the Community Organisation for Management and Sustainable Development (COMAND), told The Gleaner that the forum was born out of a need to create economic activity on a community level as an anti-crime measure.
"We believe we need to generate employment at the community level to reduce crime in the Granville community," said Allen. "We have 1,800 acres of property in Retirement, and we need to bring it under development control. We would like to secure as much of the agricultural land as possible, and put it under agricultural production."
Commitment with AgroGrace
Allen also noted that, as part of this community thrust, COMAND has made a commitment with AgroGrace Jamaica to develop agricultural growth in a number of ways.
"We have an initial commitment from AgroGrace to partner with us to produce five acres of pepper," said Allen. "We are looking at other areas like pig farming, and we're in discussions with a new processing plant to be opened in Freeport to provide them with pigs."
Allen also noted that plans are also in the pipeline to tackle additional projects such as bee-keeping and fishing, which he thinks could be quite feasible if handled properly.
"We are also looking at apiculture (bee-keeping) and the possible establishment of an ornamental fish farm," stated Allen. "This is a community-driven process, and we're working in partnership with state agencies like RADA. We would like other private-sector agencies to come on board to give support to these initiatives."
The community of Granville has long been stigmatised as a haven for crime and violence. As a consequence, persons have been seeking to develop lawful projects to reverse the bad reputation.
"We have had discussions at the community level in terms of how to mitigate crime and violence in Granville, and we believe that, by creating economic activities, this will be one of the sure ways of reducing crime and violence," said Allen. "We are using the assets that are available, which is the land; and through working with RADA, we want to mobilise the community."