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Agri ministry eyes Clarendon plains

Published:Saturday | February 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is placing focus on the Clarendon plains as it seeks to develop a policy to identify and put the country's most arable lands into production.

Portfolio minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, first revealed details of the agricultural land-use policy last October.

Chief executive officer of the National Irrigation Commission, Stanley Rampair, speaking at the launch of the Arable Lands Irrigated and Growing for the Nation project at Clarendon Park on Tuesday, said that the Clarendon plains have the largest tract of available arable land in the country, amounting to more than 100,000 acres.

The irrigation district is 32,000 acres, with only 12,000 acres fully cultivated. About 20 per cent of the lands are owned by Government and more than 40 per cent by private persons, with the remainder still to be accounted for.

"Clarendon has excellent soils; it has a wide variety of soils. All of these lands can do extensive cultivation meaning that we can plough them, harrow them, furrow them and bring them into production pretty quickly in a very efficient and intensive way," Rampair said.

He said that the most suitable crops for the area include sugar cane, rice, corn, sorghum, sweet potato, banana, plantain, cotton, sorrel, and vegetables such as pepper, tomatoes and onions. Tree crops like mangoes, avocados, breadfruit and ackee are also ideal, in addition to poultry, pig and fish farming, shrimp and apiary culture, and pasture land.