Sorrel-processing plant opens in Bethel Town
On the heels of the passing of Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke, the Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) have opened a new sorrel drink processing facility in Bethel Town, Westmoreland.
The sorrel-processing plant, which took 18 months to complete, was constructed at a cost of $27.8 million, of which $23.2 million was contributed through the JSIF. The other $4.6 million was a community contribution.
In delivering the keynote address on behalf of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, acting Minister of Agriculture Derrick Kellier said the opening of the facility was a step towards economic independence for Jamaica.
"The opening of this sorrel facility is truly important, and it holds special meaning for several reasons. It represents steps being taken towards true economic independence," said Kellier. "Economic independence can only be won when individuals and communities are empowered, one by one, to create their own enterprises, gainfully employ their own people, and produce their way out of poverty and underdevelopment."
Kellier gave an outline of the history of sorrel as one of Jamaica's most recognisable plants.
"The National Library of Jamaica indicates that sorrel has been around since the 1700s, and although said to be native to the Far East, sorrel is popular in several areas of Africa as well," he said. "Some people believe that it made the treacherous Middle Passage journey across the Atlantic with the millions of Africans who were brought here as slaves. So this plant has grown and flourished alongside the rich and eventful history of Jamaica in much the same way that sugar cane has."
Approximately 88 persons will benefit directly from the presence of the new sorrel facility in Bethel Town, including 11 workers hired directly by the plant and 77 farmers of sorrel, ginger, and pimento, who will provide the raw materials for the production of sorrel drinks and other products.