April 7, 2011

Mined-Out Lands to Be Used for Green House Farming

Farmers in the Mocho Community now have full responsibility for 28 acres of mined out land which they can put to productive use. This, as Jamalco’s Managing Director, Jerome Maxwell and Chairman of the Mocho Community Council’s Project Management committee Enos Anderson signed the lease agreement on Tuesday, April 5, signifying the transfer of responsibility.

Sitting on the land in the rural Clarendon community are six green houses, a training centre and an irrigation system that comprise the Mocho Community Green House Training Centre.

The lease agreement is also paving the way for the Council to access a $500,000 loan from a revolving pool of funds established under the Jamalco Entrepreneurship Project (JEDP) to expand the operations of four of the greenhouses that will be operated by community groups for commercial farming.

Two of the greenhouses are being used for training local farmers in greenhouse technology. Eight local farmers comprising seven women and one man are currently being trained at the centre by Jervis Rowe, President of the Jamaica Greenhouse Growers Association and have begun reaping sweet peppers planted in one of the greenhouses. Another greenhouse is being used to raise cucumbers.  The farmers began the one-year programme in September 2010.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Corporate Services Manager, Leo Lambert commended the committee for their dedication in helping to restore mined-out land to productive use. “This is first rate what we have seen today and I hope this green house project will become the model for what we can do with mined-out lands,” Lambert said.

Continuing Lambert noted that the Greenhouse Project is a critical component of Jamalco’s sustainability strategy and underscores the commitment that Jamalco has to ensuring that the project is successful. He added that Jamalco will be watching this project carefully as it has become our pride and joy. “The land is now yours to develop and you must use it to produce crops that you will be able to sell in markets all over Jamaica in a couple years from now.” Lambert stated.

Managing Director Jerome Maxwell said he was very pleased that Jamalco can add value and put lands used for mining back into productive use. “The project was on the books for over four years and I am extremely pleased that we can hand it over to you today,” Mr. Maxwell stated.  He also charged the committee to not only grow the produce, but to have a market to which the crops can be sold.

In thanking Jamalco for its support, the chairman of the project sub-committee Enos Anderson said, “Finally we are realizing the benefits of bauxite. Jamalco is helping us to realize economic independence and is assisting us to create something that is sustainable.”

Chairman of the Mocho Community Council Henry Manning also thanked Jamalco for preserving and keeping the project alive. “There were times when we did not know if the project was coming or going and we intend to make our stakeholders proud of what we are doing,” he said.

The Mocho Greenhouse Training Centre was developed with funding from the Alcoa Foundation, Jamalco, and the US Agency for International Development (US-AID).  It received technical supported from the HEART Trust/National Training Agency’s Ebony Park Academy which trained the first set 12 farmer.

Jamalco and the Alcoa Foundation have invested some US$285,892 or just over J$25.5 million in cash and kind in the project since 2008.

Lease Agreement handed over to the Mocho community

Click image to enlarge.

MD Jerome Maxwell handed over Lease Agreement to Enos Anderson, Chairman of the Mocho community.