Give Montpelier lands to farmers — Mark Hart
MONTEGO BAY, St James
CARIBBEAN Producers Jamaica Ltd (CPJ) Executive Chairman Mark Hart is calling for lands at Montpelier in St James —earmarked for a housing development — to be sub-divided and put in the hands of farmers for cultivation.
"There was talk once to create housing up there (Montpelier). And when I look at that valley I gasp, please don't let that happen," Hart exclaimed, the son of renowned farmer Tony Hart.
"My dream for Montpelier is to cut it up into smaller farms and lease it out to people. Lease it out for 50 years or a hundred years. The land is good and I think people will be dying to go there to establish a farm."
Government is looking at the possibility of using sections of the Montpelier agriculture property, for the development of a housing scheme.
Following an assessment tour a year ago, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Roger Clarke, said that although the Montpelier lands are primarily used for agricultural production, about 1,000 hectares, which can be categorised as marginal, is being viewed as potential housing space.
The Development Bank of Jamaica owns the property, which has been earmarked for divestment.
Meanwhile, noting that he would like to see more people becoming involved in farming and subsequently exporting their products, Hart urged the Government to provide incentives for farmers in the form of waivers, in an effort to make their produce more competitive.
He was speaking at the launch of the 2014 Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show -- to be staged at the Montpelier Show Grounds on Easter Monday -- at the Sunset Beach Resort, Spa & Waterpark in Montego Bay recently.
According to the president of the St James Branch of the Jamaica Agricultural Society Glendon Harris, the show will be staged at a cost of $3.7million, under the theme, "Grow What We Eat and Eat What We Grow".