Jamaica News: Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Investment, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, says a major agro-economic zone is to be established at the Holland Estate in St. Elizabeth.
He made the disclosure at a recent handover ceremony for the expanded Middlesex Infant School in Holland Bamboo, in the Parish.
Mr. Hutchinson said the agro-economic zone will comprise farms on the 2,400-acre estate as well as packaging and processing facilities.
“Come June/July of next year, land is going to become available. I want to say to you, it has all been taken up already, and what we are talking about is a combination of large farmers and small farmers,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
“We… have some persons who have said they want to do 100 acres of papaya and some also want to do fruit trees,” Hutchinson added.
The Minister said when reaped, Grade ‘A’ produce would go to hotels and the export market, Grade ‘B’ to the local market, while Grade ‘C’ produce, would be used for the extraction of purée, juice and other value-added produce.
The agro-economic zone will replace sugar-cane operations by J Wray & Nephew Limited at the estate.
In addition, Mr. Hutchinson said produce from the agro-economic zone will be utilised in the breakfast programme at the Middlesex Infant School.
“We have to ensure that these children get a proper breakfast in the morning. Why I say breakfast is because those who come to school, and you have 30 to 40 per cent of them coming to school… without a breakfast and by 9 or 10am you find the brain is not functioning properly,” he stated.
“On top of that, you find most of them, when they come, the first thing they’re going to do is drink a bag juice. When you have sugar and water what happens to the child? Gone to sleep,” Mr. Hutchinson stressed.
In this regard, Minister Hutchinson said fruit juice produced at the agro-economic zone will be contributed to the Middlesex Infant School.
“So once you get the value chain going, we are going to get all the bag juice out of this complex, and we are going to provide them with fruit juice,” Minister Hutchinson said.
Source: JIS News