Money to be made in mangoes
Investors looking to cash in on proposed East Indian and Julie agro park in ClarendonMonday, August 02, 2021
At least 10 local investors, and one from overseas, have indicated an early interest in a mango agro park which is to be established on approximately 900 acres in Toll Gate, Clarendon.
Chief executive officer of Agro Investment Corporation (AIC) Dr Al Powell says investors have shown a strong appetite for the proposed agro-park and he expects more interest from foreign and local entities.
“We should be able to confirm, by the end of this year, which investors will get through because it is a process. We really should be ready before the end of this year so that they can start preparing their funding to take over by next year March,” Powell told the Jamaica Observer.
“We want to complete the thing before the next financial year. We are processing people at this time but the processing take a little time because we have to do legal work, a lot of documentation, and they have to bring financials from the bank and other things generally.
“Because what we don't want is someone to start the process and in four months they run out of money. So we have to see the cash flow to support it,” added Powell.
He said it is expected that people who invest in the mango agro-park should recoup their investments in six to seven years.
According to Powell, investors will be offered 50-acre plots for mango orchards and inter-cropping as that as seen as the minimum size for an investor to be financially viable.
Powell told the Observer that mangoes are in demand worldwide with more than 100 countries, including Jamaica, planting the fruit for export.
But he noted that Jamaica is not among the top mango exporters despite a strong demand for the fruit in the nearby United States where exporters from Mexico, Puerto Rico and even Brazil are strong.
“We have the temperature, the technical capability, and just about everything to grow mangoes. So the Government said we should get into these tree crops. Among the tree crops we are looking at are mangoes, ackee and avocado, but we are going to start with mango,” said Powell.
He said the facility being established in Toll Gate will be Jamaica's first mango agro-park and will grow East Indian and St Julian (Julie).
“We contemplate the export market to be the USA, Europe and Canada and to make it easier into the United States, we are going to construct a modern hot water treatment plant so that the fruit flies which threaten the export of mangoes will be behind us,” declared Powell.
The AIC head says work is far advanced on a 60-acre section of the property which will be used as a demonstration area and the planting of mango trees should begin in that area within another few weeks.
“We are expecting that the project, in terms of the private/public sector partnership, will take off fully in another five to six months,” said Powell.
Responding to concerns that small farmers will be locked out of the mango agro park, Powell argued that the level of investment needed will not lend itself to operations of less than 50 acres
“If you have smaller units you are going to run into problems as you will not be able to reap enough fruits off it [to be financially viable]… Remember we are running a commercial venture, we are running a profitable venture [and] we are not running this thing as a hobby or as something that we love. It is a business.
“So what we are saying, if you put a certain amount of dollars in this business you have a return on investment in this way. If the small man can come with his money, or if a group of two, or three persons, take up a 50-acre lot, we can also work with that,” said Powell.
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