PM wants faster take-up of former sugar lands


PM wants faster take-up of former sugar lands

Friday, February 28, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, ST James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is calling for faster take-up of former sugar lands for the planting of alternative crops.

Holness, who was delivering the keynote address at the 65th staging of the Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Wednesday, said that “we have not been utilising the acreages that are being released as quickly as we should”.

Thousands of acres of lands, which were under sugar production, are being made available by the Government to private sector interests for the cultivation of viable crops.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries has indicated that applications have been received for the use of these properties for the planting of castor beans, Sea Island cotton, mango and coconut, which are in global demand.

Holness, in encouraging more investors to come forward, said that putting these former sugar lands under production will “open up a whole new world of opportunity for agriculture”.

“Sugar as an industry has been experiencing a decline. As we come out of sugar… not as a deliberate action by the Government… but as a consequence of the nature of the industry and the time… we just have to get into things that we know will work for us,” he noted.

At the same time, he said he was pleased to see that a conglomerate, led by businessman Michael Lee-Chin, has invested in the Innswood Sugar Estates in St Catherine, where 3,000 acres of orchards and other assorted crops will be cultivated.

“They are now making a massive capital investment where they are putting in irrigation and all kinds of technology. They are going to grow potatoes, onions and all kinds of things in that operation,” he pointed out.

“I am confident that it will work, and once it works, then you would have established that Jamaica can undertake commercial agricultural operations at an economic scale that is viable and profitable and which will be replicated right across Jamaica as sugar lands become available due to the decline of the sugar industry,” he said.

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