Flower Hill bammy project doing well
FLOWER HILL, St James — With profits averaging $1.9 million yearly for the past four years, the bammy making venture that employs 10 women in this rural community has been hailed as a success.
Almost 1.5 million bammies have been produced since the project’s inception 11 years ago, and there are plans afoot to expand production to take greater advantage of the export market.
In addition to creating much-needed jobs the project has provided a lucrative market for the cassava plant, a tuber that is less sought after than others like yam and dasheen. Fifty farmers now supply the factory with cassava produced on more than 10 hectares of land, and since they have started participating in the project, they have benefited from the construction of a 27,000-litre water storage tank.
The bammy-producing cottage industry has come a long way in the Flower Hill community with an expansion of the marketing network to include other areas such as Ocho Rios, Mandeville and Kingston. There has also been an improvement in labelling to meet the requirements of the Bureau of Standards, increased acceptability from consumers, and on-going training for employees in the areas of small business management and principles of co-operatives.
According to acting parish manager for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in St James, Donald Robinson, efforts are being made to have the project registered as a co-operative.
He added that even though severe drought and machinery problems resulted in a marginal decline in bammy production last year, the venture is outgrowing the present facilities at Flower Hill.
He told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that negotiations are currently under way between RADA and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) for infrastructural expansion at the plant, which would create more employment and bring about increased levels of production. According to the parish manager, RADA is taking steps to ensure the sustainability of the project by giving direct assistance to farmers to facilitate increased production of cassava in St James.
“The target for the project is to plant some 90 hectares of cassava, so as to meet the high demand for bammy, both locally and abroad,” he said.
Robinson added that RADA has already helped farmers in the Flower Hill and Salt Spring areas to plant five hectares of cassava, while others were assisted with land preparation, fertiliser and technical information. He said he expects more farmers will come forward to plant the tuber.
— Text and photos by JIS