Sun | Sep 26, 2021

Ganja among crops targeted for new Bernard Lodge farms

Published:Sunday | April 28, 2019 | 12:12 AM

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) has 300 project proposals in hand for new farms on the Bernard Lodge lands in St Catherine.

Minister Audley Shaw said that the projects would be executed under the rationalisation and large-scale leasing of lands under SCJ Holdings Limited and on arable lands held under the National Land Agency, during his contribution to the sectoral debate in Parliament last week.

Shaw said projects proposed include industrial crops such as cannabis, hemp, castor beans, bamboo, coconuts, West Indian Sea Island Cotton, and orchards to include avocadoes, mangoes, breadfruit, ackee, and papayas.

RETURN TO PRODUCTION

The Jamaican Government is working on a broad programme to return sugar lands to productive use. Shaw said that of 120,000 acres managed by the SCJ Holdings, 55,000 will be retained in sugar while 65,000 acres will be redirected into other crops, as well as housing and other projects.

Alongside Bernard Lodge, more lands have come into Government’s land bank with the return of over 44,000 acres by Chinese-owned Pan Caribbean Sugar Company Limited, the minister said.

The projects under the Bernard Lodge Development Plan are already under way, including the production of crops such as cassava for industrial use, and vegetables for domestic consumption.

The 300 applications for lease of the SCJ lands received by MICAF up to July 2018 ranged from small farmers to large enterprises, some of which were eligible for entering into mother farm and satellite farm relationships, Shaw said.

It is expected that in the first phase of these projects employment of in excess of 3,000 people will be generated, he noted.

“The businesses to be established will have cumulatively inject some $58 billion into the economy,” Minister Shaw said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com