Gov't to put idle lands into serious hands - Shaw
The Government is pushing to get idle lands that were leased for agricultural purposes into the hands of persons who are serious about production.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw yesterday raised concern about agro-parks managed by the Agro Investment Corporation that he indicated were using less than 30 per cent of lands leased to them.
"The Government will revisit the leases in these agro-parks to make sure that we put the lands into the hands of people with the financial capability, agricultural know-how and the business acumen to effectively engage these lands," Shaw told the Lower House during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate
"Those with leases in these agro-parks need to get into production or these lands will have to be reallocated," he added.
Shaw noted that only 27 per cent of land leased by Ebony Park, Spring Plain, Amity Hall and Plaintain Garden was under production.
However, he lauded the two agro-parks managed under the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme for utilising more than 95 per cent of the lands leased to them. The two agro-parks are New Forest-Duff House and Yallahs.
He highlighted that the current Government and the previous administration had spent significant resources on agro-parks, outfitting some 1,298 hectares of land with the requisite infrastructure to ensure profitable and sustainable production.
At the same time, the Government is targeting the establishment of two agro-parks this year, at Hounslow in
St Elizabeth where $118 million has been spent, and Spring Garden in Portland where $85 million has been spent to bring 82 hectares into production.
"We are determined that having spent these resources, the lands must go into the hands of serious investors and farmers. In the case of Hounslow, we are partnering with GraceKennedy to provide direct support to the packing house built by the Government and being operated under lease by GraceKennedy," said Shaw.