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Farm Up Jamaica gets $5 million

Published:Monday | February 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dave Rodney, Contributor

Last month, more than 600 tourists participated in planting 10 acres of ginger in the community of Haddo, Westmoreland. The project was a partnership between Farm Up Jamaica, a non-profit organisation registered in New York, and doTERRA, a Utah-based organisation that is the world's largest seller of essential oils.

So successful was the West-moreland ginger project, that doTERRA's Healing Hands Foundation has donated J$5 million to Farm Up Jamaica to enable improvements with an existing organic onion farm in New Forest, South Manchester.

"doTERRA's commitment to Jamaica and to Farm Up Jamaica did not stop at the ginger farm, and our donation will go towards creating a solar-powered drying facility in Manchester that will also accommodate students who will learn hands-on skills there," co-founder and executive vice-president of doTERRA, Gregory Cook told The Gleaner.

Green project

The facility will be used for processing and adding value to agricultural products, including drying capabilities. The building will be a green project, so 'earth bags' will be used to build the facility, and this is an inexpensive and efficient way to create the structure. Crops like onion, thyme, ginger and pepper will be dried at this facility. Dormitory-type living quarters will be built on the second floor to house agricultural students in residence.

During peak harvesting season, the facility will be in operation 24 hours a day and it will be made available to local farmers in exchange for a small user fee of five per cent of their sales. The user fee will cover costs and keep the facility operational. All transactions will be documented and transparent to ensure fair prices for all concerned.

"I am naturally very excited about this new development as it will enable us to do a lot more," founder and chairman of Farm Up Jamaica Neil Curtis told The Gleaner.

"We still have to raise an additional J$1 million more to bring the project to completion, but we are well on the way," Curtis added.

Farm Up Jamaica's farming and food processing experts will become part of a support and training system to help local farmers transform their crops into badly needed revenue. Ultimately, these transformations and enhancements will move rural farming communities forward.