St Elizabeth for agro-economic zone

St Elizabeth for agro-economic zone

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson says the agro-economic zone being established at Holland Estate, in St Elizabeth, will play a central role to reduce food waste in Jamaica.

Speaking at the St Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation Limited's 'Homecoming Week 2019 Awards Brunch', at Lover's Leap, in the parish, on Sunday, Hutchinson outlined that on the 2,400-acre property, which will comprise farms as well as packaging and processing facilities, crops will undergo quality grading, where none will go to waste in preparation for the local and international markets.

“You find that many people come and buy your produce, but they take off the 'A' grade ones, and the 'B' and 'C' grades are left on the ground to spoil. So, you farmers are losing a lot of money, because those are going to waste and that could be used.

“So, what we are looking at in St Bess [St Elizabeth] come next year, is we are going to be having the first agro-economic zone. At that complex, the 'A' grade is going to go to the hotels and export markets, the 'B' grade goes to the local market and the 'C' grade is going to be processed into purée and juice,” he said.

He added that irrespective of the quality, the crops produced will always have a market, leading to less food loss and waste.

He also pointed out that each farmer will get up to 20 acres of land to grow various types of cash crops, which will also feed into the revitalisation process of the school breakfast programme in St Elizabeth.

“I want to say to the small famers of St Elizabeth, keep on doing what you are doing, you are the ones who are leading this economy. You are the ones who are providing growth in this economy and so I say to you, we, all together, will make it work,” he said.

The Homecoming Week 2019 Awards Brunch saw several farmers being awarded for their dedication and innovation in the agricultural sector.

Farmer Desmond Whitely was presented the 'The Best of St Bess Golden Award'; Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) received the ''The Best of St Bess Special Award', and Turner Innovation got the 'The Best of St Bess Innovation Golden Award'.

Interim chairman of the St Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation, Dr Patrick Dallas noted that this year marks the group's 26th anniversary, and “we still are going to be working in this parish to fulfil our mandate”.

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