Former cane lands expected to be used for non-sugar crops, livestock

Saturday, May 05, 2018

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THE Government is to consider the divestment of 10,500 acres of former sugar-cane lands in St Catherine, to be used for high-yielding, highly profitable production of non-sugar crops and livestock.

It is expected that these lands will mostly attract large investors engaging in onion production, fruit tree orchards and exotic crops.

This is according to Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw, who informed that he is to receive a proposal from Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Limited this week for the rationalisation of these lands, which it owns.

Shaw, who was making his contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 1, informed that this is part of the 18,000 hectares of land leased by Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, which has been returned to the Government.

The lands were once home to the Bernard Lodge Estate, which focused on sugar-cane cultivation, operation of a rum distillery, and eventually ethanol production.

The agriculture ministry negotiated the return of the lands last year as part of plans to promote greater utilisation of idle arable lands for agricultural production.

“We cannot continue to watch good lands lay idle anymore… These 18,000 hectares of highly fertile, alluvial, flat, and mechanisable lands represent the largest contiguous area of lands in Jamaica, suitable and ideal for this agricultural revolution,” he said.

Shaw informed that he has met with SCJ Holdings, Jamaica Promotions Corporation, the National Irrigation Commission, and Agro-Investment Corporation, and has issued instructions for the Bernard Lodge Land Use Master Plan to be developed quickly. The plan will outline how the lands are to be utilised.

Of the remaining 7,500 hectares of land to be left available for sugar production, 2,000 hectares of that will be developed as an urban community.

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