Jamaica News: Over 2,000 acres of farmland on the Holland Estate in St. Elizabeth have been purposed to grow produce for the school breakfast programme for students that is being revitalized across the parish.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, made the announcement during the Eat Jamaican School Tour at Holland Primary School on Friday (November 15).
“We have taken all of that [land] out of cane… and small farmers are now planting various types of cash crops there. That is one of the main areas where we are going to be getting most of our food from,” the Minister said.
Mr. Hutchinson indicated that the initiative will be piloted at Holland Primary School and subsequently introduced to other institutions.
“So today’s [(November 15) event aims] to educate the students here and the wider community [that] we are going to be assisting in providing local food within the schools for the children. We have seen the benefits. It has been proven that it helps the children in their attendance and also helps them with their grades,” he further stated.
The breakfast programme will also include the provision of nutritious juices derived from locally-grown fruits.
Mr. Hutchinson also toured the school garden for which he previously donated a drip irrigation system to encourage farming, and assisted in preparing some of the meals that were served to the students on Friday.
“We want to let the children here and the wider Jamaica know that we would like to see them eating more local food. [Also], we are trying to educate the children that whenever they are buying, we want them to buy local,” he stated.
The tour was one of several activities to mark Eat Jamaican Month during November. It was jointly organised with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).
Principal of Holland Primary School, Simone Doctor, told JIS News that between 80 to 120 students at the institution are fed under the breakfast programme daily.
She said the school consistently advocates the incorporation of locally grown produce into the ingredients used to prepare meals for the students, noting that this prompted the garden’s establishment in 2014.
“It (breakfast programme) is a good initiative… and the Minister coming here to actually be a chef, cooking the food on the spot and demonstrating to the children using local food, was excellent,” Mrs. Doctor further said.
Source: JIS News