Jamaica News: Twenty farmers from Content in Manchester are getting ready to reap sweet peppers and tomatoes from their greenhouses.
They are part of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) Water Harvesting and Greenhouse Project that has been operating in eight communities across the island since 2013.
The project aims to provide sustainable livelihoods for residents of mined-out communities.
Marjorita Isaacs is the only woman in the project, and she is growing sweet peppers.
“This is my second crop and I now have my full quota,” she told JIS News.
From a farming family, Ms. Isaacs says her parents were Irish potato growers, so farming is in her blood.
She said she prefers greenhouse to outdoor farming, when heavy rainfall affects her crops.
Another farmer, Raymond King, has been in greenhouse farming for four years.
“I love it because when you have problems outside, you don’t have them inside and it pays better. When you are outside, you have one crop, but inside you can pick several for one year straight,” he said.
Mr. King said even when it is raining, he can still be working, and he has a steady, reliable market for his crops, including yam and sweet potato.
For her part, Dianne Gordon, a Director of bauxite lands at the JBI who has been with the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP) for some 21 years, said the project was conceptualised in collaboration with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) to fulfil the mantra ‘Life after bauxite’.
“You can have production and life long after the mining is finished. Content is a living example of that. This area was mined in the 1960s and we started in 2018,” she noted.
Ms. Gordon said JSIF and JBI got together, along with RADA, in 2013 and put the project together.
The farmers in Content occupy 20 greenhouses. There are seven other locations with 160 farmers, namely, Nine Miles, Tobolski, Watt Town and Clapham, in St. Ann; Blue Mountain and Rose Hill, in Manchester and Myersville, in St. Elizbeth.
“The beauty of the project is that mined-out pits are converted into water-harvesting ponds using a solar water pump to take the water to temporary storage tanks, and [it is] fed to the greenhouses using the gravity method. This helps farmers to plant whether there is drought or not,” she said.