Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a Canada-based company which will see both parties exploring wind-energy solutions for use by Jamaican farmers.
A team from Seaforth Energy in Nova Scotia, Canada, is now in the island on a scouting mission of JAS properties to determine their suitability for hosting the construction of a network of wind turbines to provide a supply chain of cheap, renewable energy.
The project, Clean Energy for Jamaica Farmers, is part of a long-term strategy aimed at significantly reducing production/manufacturing costs in the process enhancing the competitiveness of Jamaican agricultural goods and services on the global market.
The MOU, intended to fast-track efforts to identify appropriate sites and raise investment funding, was signed at the JAS head office, 65 Church Street, Kingston, yesterday.
Bruce Thompson, of Seaforth Energy, told The Gleaner the project had buy-in from the ministries of Agriculture and Energy, with the Canadian High Commission also lending support to identify funding sources.
Thompson's company manufactures the AOC 15/50, said to be the most reliable 50-kilowatt wind turbine. It has installed them all over the world, including in Siberia, India, the Dominican Republic, United Kingdom and Ireland.
Describing the initiative to make cleaner, cheaper energy easily available to farmers as a game changer, JAS President Senator Norman Grant said one of the main objectives was to achieve economic and social development of the rural sector.
He told The Gleaner that the JAS plans to form co-operatives among its members who will eventually take ownership of the facilities, providing energy primarily for their business operations, with the excess sold to the national grid.
Meanwhile, Robert Ready, Canada's high commissioner to Jamaica, noted that the trade relationship with Jamaica goes back 200 years when rum and codfish were the commodities of choice and sailboats and cargo ships were powered by wind energy. He pointed out that in effect, wind energy had now come full circle, though in a different channel.
In fact, he noted that this relationship was poised to grow given the high level of interest by Canadian companies in participating in the recently issued request for proposals for 115 megawatts of renewable-energy generation here in Jamaica.