Mined-Out Lands To Be Made Productive

Transport and Mining Minister Mike Henry (second right) tours one of the agricultural greenhouses in Watt Town, St Ann, with Executive Director of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute Parris Lyew-Ayee (left) and Executive Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund Omar Sweeney (right, background) on June 2. At right is farmer Dautris Wykeham.

Transport and Mining Minister Mike Henry says that mined-out bauxite lands across the island will be returned to productive use, especially for agriculture.

During a tour of two water harvesting and greenhouse cluster projects in St Ann on June 2, Henry said he is determined to ensure that the lands are returned to the people of Jamaica with a view to adding value to their lives.

The projects, which are under the auspices of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), are located in Watt Town and Tobolski in South West St Ann, and involve some 160 farmers and more than 40 greenhouses.

Other greenhouses are located in Schwollingburg and Nine Miles in St Ann; Content, Blue Mountain and Rose Hill in Manchester; and Myersville in St Elizabeth.

The overall project is worth $243 million, with $173 million coming from the JSIF and $61 million from the JBI. The farmers are engaged in the cultivation of eight crops, including sweet peppers and tomatoes, for the hotel sector.

Henry said the partnership between the stakeholders in establishing the greenhouse clusters and water-harvesting projects must be commended and improved.