SDC Local Economic Support boosts farming in Manchester

By Kasey Williams
Jamaica Observer writer

Monday, December 17, 2018

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — More than 25 farming communities in Manchester are benefiting from the Social Development Commission's (SDC) Local Economic Support initiative which recently hosted a farmers' festival in this south central town.

Field supervisor at the Manchester SDC division Oren Osbourne disclosed that the initiative is one of several programmes of economic development targeting communities across the country.

Osbourne told the Jamaica Observer Central at the Mandeville/ Williamsfield Farmers Fest that “we have a roll-out of agricultural produce and technological use in farming here at the farmers' fest. We have a collection of communities from Mandeville development area which consists of 20 communities, and Williamsfield development area has five communities. Some of the communities that are here displaying agriculture are Williamsfield, Blue Mountain, Bombay, Ingleside, and Knockpatrick.”

He added, “There are also local economic initiative groups present. The farm fest is one of seven programmes that the Social Development Commission implements with community groups and individuals. We are moving into a technological age, so people can come and get ideas as we have a lot of farmers and the Scientific Research Council on board. There is a connection with technology and farming. It can no longer be done like in the old days because we now have to be technologically savvy in order to maximise on the production and yields from agriculture.”

Agricultural productivity in Manchester, including value-added products, was on full display at the farm fest.

Founder and operator of Uncle Dan's natural seasoning Daniel Johnson spoke of how his company has benefited from the local economic support initiative.

“We make seasons, spices and flour. We use all the farm products possible to make flour such as cassava, yellow yam, plantain, nutmeg, cocoa, peas. We have scallion powder, thyme powder, ginger powder, and scotch bonnet powder,” said Johnson.

Uncle Dan's natural seasoning has been in operation for the past eight years and started in Greenvale. The business outgrew the space and is now located in Hatfield, Manchester.

Johnson credited the SDC for their support, saying, “I have been in partnership with the SDC for the past two years. Through them the business has been promoted at farm shows and expos. The promotion is very good as I want this business to go international.”

“Our products have a unique flavour and positive health factors. I am trying to expand the business by getting a store in Mandeville,” he added.

Another exhibit that drew much attention was the Blue Mountain Greenhouse village.

Assistant manager at the Blue Mountain Greenhouse Jean Brown listed some produce that were on display to include celery, broccoli, sweet pepper, banana, plantains, among others that are grown in greenhouses.

“It has been two years since our greenhouses have been in operation. We were impacted by bauxite and so we received 20 greenhouses and we are making good use of them. People are employed through greenhouse farming,” she said.

President of the Hope Village Citizen's Association Verna Manning praised the efforts of the SDC to promote farmers and their products. Hope Village is a part of the Williamsfield community development area.

Their focus was on breadfruit with breadfruit punch, cake, gizzada, and salad among the products on display.

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