Minister Vaz commits land for Baptist Union castor oil projectFriday, March 24, 2017
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, has given a commitment to assist the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) with lands for its castor bean project.
“I am the minister with responsibility for land (and) where there is land that is unutilised, I will make it available,” he said.
He was speaking at the official launch of the Grow Castor Bean Project at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Wednesday.
Vaz commended the JBU for undertaking the initiative, which will engage residents in Baptist church communities across the island in castor bean production, noting that it will serve to widen the country’s economic base, beginning at the community level.
“I am very pleased that the JBU is utilising its network of churches to provide employment for persons under this project, thereby alleviating poverty in the targeted communities. I also note that... you aim to build the skill sets of participants in the project through exposure to agronomy, land stewardship and business skills,” he said.
He indicated that his ministry, and by extension the Government, envision a Jamaica where the public and private sectors work together to drive investment and production and where every Jamaican is gainfully employed and empowered.
“We (also) envision a Jamaica in which economic and social development are attainable and measureable, in which the future is sustainable, so that future generations can continue to benefit from our plans and projects for decades to come,” he said.
Project Director, Dr Judith Johnston, welcomed Vaz’s commitment of land, noting that she intends to take up the offer.
She noted that, currently, a relationship exists where property under the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Limited has been made available for use in the project.
However, this does not exist in all parishes and will require additional lands.
Designed to create wealth in roughly 337 Baptist church communities, the overall objective of the Grow Castor Bean Project is to provide a consistent supply of castor oil for markets locally and internationally.
During phase one of the project, 1,000 acres of beans will be farmed and harvested over two 21/2-year cycles. In phase two, the harvested beans will be processed to produce castor oil.
The product is used primarily in the pharmaceutical industry as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; in cosmetic applications; and in the manufacture of high-grade lubricants and biodiesel fuel.
On the US market, real Jamaican castor oil has the potential to earn between US$80 million and US$100 million and globally, upwards of US$200 million.
The Grow Castor Bean Project is endorsed by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, and involves collaboration with several government entities, such as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), JAMPRO, Jamaica Bureau of Standards, and the Scientific Research Council (SRC).