Sun | Aug 7, 2022

Patmore to invest millions in organic fertiliser

Former Southern Trelawny councillor aims to alleviate heavy financial burden on farmers

Published:Wednesday | May 11, 2022 | 12:07 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

PAUL PATMORE from Lowe River in south Trelawny has set out to turn the negatives of the world in positives for Jamaicans. The one-term councillor for the Lowe River Division plans to establish a multimillion-dollar investment in the production of organic fertilisers, to offset the burdensome costs associated with farming that have been impacted by the war in Europe.

“The world is affected by war between Ukraine and Russia. That has resulted in a heavy increase in the price of fertiliser and a fall in the profitability of farmers,” Patmore disclosed.

According to the Lowe River native, the price of fertiliser is now $12,000 per bag, a facet of production affecting profitability, as a yam farmer is forced to sell his yam at $9,000 per 100lb.

“When a yam farmer includes the cost of yam sticks and labour, he cannot even draw level with the cost of his input,” Patmore shared.

He disclosed some of his plans pertaining to the production of organic fertiliser, which involves animal excretion.

“I will be establishing two animal farms, one of goats and the other of rabbits. Their [waste] will form a major part in my production of the fertiliser “ he told The Gleaner.

Only recently, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that to offset costs, 26,000 bags of fertiliser would be made available to farmers, but Patmore countered that it would need more to satisfy the farmers’ demand.

JUST A DROP IN THE BUCKET

“I have not heard much since that announcement,” Patmore observed. “Even so, that is just a drop in the bucket where the needs of farmers are concerned.”

For the process to become feasible, the former councillor said lending agencies need to improve ease of access to financial support, as a number of existing situations associated with farming stand to discourage farmers.

“The financial institutions are not into providing start-up capital for farming. A guy can get money to buy a car in a day, yet it takes months to get a loan to invest in farming, which employs people,” he observed.

“There are financial institutions right here in the parish which advertise non-collateralised loans for farmers. You can count on one hand the number of farmers who have received loans,” Patmore related.

President of Jamaica Agricultural Society Lenworth Fulton shares the view on financing to farmers, noting that it poses a drawback.

“The lack of financing is the major problem hindering the advancement of farming,” noted Fulton. “That combined with the lack of water and praedial larceny are problems affecting farmers’ success.”

Another observation which irks Patmore is the closure of the $16-million yam house in Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny.

“All that money was spent for what was supposed to aid in making the export of yams easier,” he said. “They built the building without putting in the necessary infrastructure. From 2011 to now, the water needs have not been met.”

The production and export of yams is a major activity of farmers in south Trelawny, as 70 per cent of the yams exported from Jamaica annually are grown in that area.

According to Patmore, word on the streets is that the yam house is to be converted into an entertainment centre, a situation he described as “laughable”.

Winston Smith, the sitting councillor, said he has heard otherwise. However, he did not state the purpose for which leasing was being pursued.

“ I know that a group of persons is in the process of leasing the yam house,” said Smith. “(But) not for entertainment.”

leon.jackson@gleanerjm.com