Jamaica – The Jamaican government is focused on the productive use of former sugar-cane lands, and in doing so, has facilitated the establishment of alternative economic livelihoods for hundreds of former sugar workers.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, who said these workers, who hail from Trelawny and St. Thomas, were assisted through a collaboration between the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Limited (SCJH) and the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers’ Association.
“In Trelawny, we have leased some 3,600 acres of the former Long Pond Estate lands to the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers to establish a project known as Trelawny Pride for their small farmers. In St. Thomas, 560 acres have been put to the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers which, through sub-leases, are being leased to former sugar workers who were displaced by the closure of the Golden Grove Sugar Factory,” he said.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (May 12).
Mr. Green stressed that through these initiatives, the Government is “ensuring that small farmers are not left out,” also pointing to the Government’s provision of 500 acres of land for the St. Thomas community-based organisation, Plantain Garden River Cooperative Society, to lease to their small farmers.
In the meantime, the Minister noted that as part of plans to attract medium-sized investment for former sugar lands, a Request for Proposal has been issued for interested parties to carry out agro-processing on 800 acres of prime arable land, with the aim of expanding job creation in St. Thomas.
“In fact, we have leased another 500 acres [of land] and we have used that, through private-public partnership, to establish a modern cattle-breeding operation with emphasis on [the] Red Poll and Jamaica Black. This operation will provide jobs and other major economic spin-offs,” he said.
Additionally, the SCJH has approved a proposal for the sale of 350 acres of land in Westmoreland to investors to build a US$300-million bamboo pulp factory, which is expected to create 500 jobs when operating at full capacity, the Minister said.