CLARKS TOWN, Trelawny - IN an effort to create additional employment and to satisfy the needs of the domestic market, Everglades Farms Limited has embarked on an initiative to put non-cane lands on the Long Pond and Hampden estates under cultivation with a wide variety of cash crops.
So far – the company which bought the Long Pond sugar factory and leased lands at Long Pond and Hampden under the government's sugar divestment programme – has cultivated roughly 22 acres of cash crops on lands at both estates.
According to director of Everglades Farms Limited, Andrew Hussey, his company took the decision to add cash crops to the farm's portfolio to compliment the other agriculture related businesses at Long Pond and Hampden.
"In addition, the cash crops are being used by Everglades Farms as a vehicle to create additional employment for residents in both Hampden and Long Pond," Hussey noted, adding that roughly 30 persons have been employed to the two farms under the initiative.
The crops planted so far include cabbage, lettuce, tomato, pak choi, sweet pepper, hot pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, irish potato, string bean, carrot, sweet corn, pumpkin, Sweet potato, pineapple, cantaloupe, water melon, thyme, escallion and onion.
Everglades Farms currently supplies hotels, supermarkets, restaurants and higglers with the cash crops cultivated on the company's two farms.
And Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Christopher Tufton has lauded the company's decision to plant cash crops.
Speaking during a tour of the Hampden division with representatives of the Rural Development Authority (RADA) and officials from Everglades Farms, Dr Tufton said he was very impressed with the wide variety of crops that have been planted at the estate.
The agriculture minister said he was also impressed with the irrigation system that the company had established on the farm which is designed to conserve on the use of water.
"The lay-out of the farms epitomised what intelligent farm practices is all about, as well as how efficient and financially rewarding the sector can become when farmers follow best practice farming methods," he said.
Minister Tufton also praised the company's farm manager, Frank Chambers, who is spearheading the new farming thrust at Everglades Farms.