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$11b Lakes Pen farming project to promote food security – Azan

Published:Thursday | September 19, 2019 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson/Staff Reporter

Businessman Gassan Azan is to embark on a 400-acre agricultural project in Lakes Pen, St Catherine, that, he says, will ultimately decrease Jamaica’s food importation and increase its food security.

Speaking with reporters at his downtown offices yesterday, Azan said that phase one of the “high-tech initiative is slated to cost J$9 billion, while phase two is slated to cost J$2.2 billion”.

The project is to feature five types of farming and will host a greenhouse, an orchard, and a shade house – all equipped with state-of-the-art agricultural technology, Azan said.

Cabinet only recently signed off on the project, which has been the subject of discussion since 2016, Azan said, adding that the project would see the cultivation of tomato, pepper, and lettuce, among other foods.

“We start the assembly of the greenhouses in November. That is our growing side. In tandem with that, we are also setting up a collection, mother-farm-type operation by October,” he explained, emphasising the many benefits farmers are expected to see from the initiative.

“Because we have so many deficiencies in the agricultural produce that we have for sale, the idea was to find some kind of food security or supply-line security for the MegaMart stores,” said Azan, founder of the MegaMart wholesale club.

“We want to build some kind of linkages back to the farmer straight to the retail shelves. We would end up producing better quality, better supply lines, and a more farmers’-market appeal rather than a supermarket appeal,” he said.

The project, called Lakes Pen Agri-Ventures, will be officially launched during a media briefing at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston today.