Agro Parks on Track – Minister Clarke
Story Highlights Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says that the Agro Parks project is going well with crops already reaped at the three facilities in operation and replanting underway.“At Plantain Garden (St. Thomas) we just finished reaping onions, and we are preparing now to put some more in. Pumpkins are now growing. Ebony Park (Clarendon), that one is on stream and we are experimenting with the mini-set yam technique. We have reaped some there and the results are very encouraging,” he said.The Minister, who was on a tour of the Amity Hall Agro Park project on October 3, with Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, and other Government officials, informed that small farmers are engaged in the cultivation of some 150 acres of crops at the St. Catherine-based facility. The crops include onion, pepper, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn, and callaloo.“All those things are things that the markets have predetermined. The farmers knew exactly what to produce. These are farmers occupying between five and 10 acres,” he said.Also at Amity Hall, Caribbean Broilers is engaged in the production of sorghum as a replacement for some of the imported animal feed. “They have planted nearly 150 acres and there is another 400 acres prepared to be planted,” Minister Clarke said.He said through sorghum production “what we have been able to do is put a dent in our import as far as animal feeds is concerned.”As it relates to the other six facilities to come on stream, Minister Clarke informed that the Hill Run facility in St. Catherine, will be dedicated to fish production. He said arrangements are being made “where our local processors and people who import tilapia can buy into our local production”.“We are working to see how we can up the breeds, we are working with an entity that has brought in new genetic material, and is also producing these fish quite successfully. They are growing like twice as the original fish that we have here,” he said.Turning to the New Forest Agro Park in Manchester, which is privately-operated, he informed that the facility is “up and running in a very significant way”. The government is providing irrigation for the facility. “We are working with them to see how we can work to deal with marketing,” he added.Some 5,000 persons are expected to benefit directly and indirectly from the nine agro parks that are to be established across the island. The project is expected to reduce imports of targeted crops and realize foreign exchange savings of $4 billion when fully operational. The project is expected to reduce imports of targeted crops and realize foreign exchange savings of $4 billion when fully operational. There are plans for six other facilites to come on stream for a total of nine (9) Agro Parks. Minister says that the Agro Parks project is going very well at the three facilities currently in operation.