American tourists to plant ginger in Jamaica
Dave Rodney, Contributor
Tomorrow, some 620 tourists will arrive in Montego Bay for a unique mission - to spend a day planting 10 acres of organic Jamaican ginger in the community of Haddo in Westmoreland.
The visitors will arrive from cities across the United States, and for a week they will soak up the tropical sun and bask in the lavish luxuries and the eleven restaurants of the just-opened Hyatt Zilara hotel, minutes from Montego Bay, which is sold out for the ginger-planting project. But on Thursday, January 22, all 620 tourists will abandon the comfort of their beach resort to get their hands and feet dirty, planting organic Jamaican ginger in Haddo, a sleepy hillside community 30 minutes southwest of Montego Bay.
The agro-tourism project is being managed and directed on the island by Farm Up Jamaica, a non-profit organisation registered in New York that is committed to growing more organic foods in Jamaica, exporting more and importing less. doTERRA International LLC, a Utah-based company that provides therapeutic-grade essential oils to the world, is also a lead partner in the winter project. This humanitarian initiative in Jamaica is part of Farm Up Jamaica's international outreach programme called PLANT SUPN', and it is hoped that the energies and the enthusiasm generated from this effort will inspire more youngsters across Jamaica to embrace farming as a viable and lucrative career.
"Projects like these are meant to inspire Jamaicans, especially our youth", Neil Curtis, founder and chairman of Farm Up Jamaica, told The Gleaner. "There are many other groups who want to visit now, as farming has become an international trend", he added.
The team of 620 guests will be divided in two groups. The first group will take on the morning shift, planting from 8 a.m. to noon, and the second group will plant from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The ginger farm will be immediately turned over to 20 current students and recent graduates of the nearby Knockalva Agricultural College who will run the operation until harvesting. Through Farm Up Jamaica's profit-sharing programme, the young people will have the opportunity to learn that farming in Jamaica is a business.
After the mission of planting the ginger has been accomplished, the visitors will spend a few days enjoying Jamaica's scenic beauty, the spicy cuisine, pulsating reggae music and other aspects of the island's vibrant culture. Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Wykeham McNeill is upbeat about the new partnership. "This initiative is in keeping with our ongoing efforts to strengthen the linkages between the tourism industry and other key sectors of the economy such as agriculture, manufacturing and entertainment", McNeill said. "It will provide several benefits for Destination Jamaica, including agricultural productivity, but it will also attract hundreds of visitors to our shores for a worthy cause," the minister stated.