Gov’t undertaking $50-million soil regeneration and fertility project
KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining has partnered with the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM) on a $50-million Soil Regeneration and Fertility Improvement Project as part of a wider strategy to improve soil fertility on the island.
Speaking at the World Soil Day Seminar on Tuesday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, Portfolio Minister Floyd Green said that the necessary funding is being provided to ensure that farmers get introduced to organic soil practices.
He noted that JOAM will work in collaboration with the Bodles Research Station located in St Catherine on the project.
“We are going to be looking at upgrading our testing capacity at Bodles and across our agricultural land-management divisions. We are going to be training our farmers in relation to composting, mulching and water management,” Green pointed out.
JOAM Past President, Nicola Shirley-Phillipps, said that a key part of the undertaking is ensuring that Jamaica has the capabilities to provide high-quality soil testing for farmers.
“We are excited about working with all the stakeholders. We are working with the soil lab [at Bodles] to make sure that we don’t have to send our soil to test abroad and ensure that we have the capacity to do that work. We are also looking at our microclimate, and we need to have the data to back that,” she noted.
Also, under the project, two demonstration plots will be established in each parish to enable farmers to see practical applications of the organic practices.
“So, we are going to be talking about the soil [food] web, teaching them about new methodologies and not to just slash and burn, but how they can make compost with things they would normally discard. We are not just talking about it, you will be able to see it, we will be gathering data,” she added.
World Soil Day is marked annually on December 5 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources.
This year’s observance, under the theme ‘Soil and Water a source of life’, is fitting, Minister Green said, as it highlights the important relationship between water and soil to the agriculture sector and food security.