Agro-economic zone

Observer writer

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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MONTPELIER, St James – President of the St James Association of Branch Society of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Glendon Harris, says plans are afoot to establish an agro-economic zone on the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show grounds in St James.

Harris, a former president of the JAS, made the disclosure during the 36th staging of the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show in Montpelier, St James, on Easter Monday.

“We will take up the challenge,” assured Harris, who added “it is on the books, minister (JC Hutchinson) that we do packaging, warehousing and cold storage facility right here. So, we are on the same page, Minister.”

The disclosure by Harris followed a challenge made by Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson, during his keynote address, for the Montpelier complex to be transformed into an agro- economic zone.

“I am now sending out a challenge to the JAS President (St James chapter). I would like Mr President, that you turn this complex into an agro- economic zone where you will be able to have grading, packaging, processing, and where the farmers will be able to take off all their produce,” Hutchinson urged.

“Get an investor to come and partner with you like we are doing [in St Elizabeth] whereby you can develop agriculture in this parish.”

The state minister had argued that marketing is one of the biggest challenges in agriculture. He said half of the crops grown by most farmers remain in the field and go to waste after higglers take away the best produce.

It is for this reason, he pointed out, why the country's first agro-economic zone is scheduled to be established in Holland, St Elizabeth.

“We are going to be having the first agro-economic zone established at Holland in St Elizabeth, and this agro- economic zone is one where you are going to have a complex, and that complex is where you have grading, packaging, processing, cold storage, drying facility, [and] everything,” Hutchinson explained.

The state minister said the facility in St Elizabeth, will serve that entire parish, and sections of Manchester and Westmoreland.

He, however, did not give a start date.

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