Hanoverians push to improve agriculture

No. 67 Wednesday, March 17, 2010
By Craig Oates
Eastern Hanover is a constituency which statistics show is rife with unemployment and with the Government of the day pushing with the 'grow what you eat and eat what you grow' campaign many citizens have been looking at making a good living out of an industry that has under performed for years. Eastern Hanover accounts for two of the parish's major towns, Hopewell and Sandy Bay.

    Most of the terrain is mountainous and the main economic activity is farming. Apart from The Tryall Clubs, Round Hill Hotel and Grand Palladium Hotel all of which employs numerous persons from outside the Parish Agriculture is the main breadwinner.
    However, farmers have been neglected and marginalized for the better part of 40 years and successive governments have only paid lip service to the needs of the farmers. Apart from in the late 1970s when the then Michael Manley led PNP started the Nyrerie Farm project, no meaningful effort has been made thus far by successive Government agencies. In addition to this many farmers contend that much of their efforts are in vain, as there is no ready market for the yams, bananas, vegetables and other crops they produce.
    One thought being bandied about, is for the constituency and the parish with its diverse offerings to offer nature tourism, as it possesses some of Jamaica's best waterfalls and caves. Persons can be so trained for such a venture because of the location of the Kenilworth HEART Academy which offers hospitality training, as well as Tryall and Round Hill, two of the world's finest villa-type resorts.
    The constituency which was widely expected to benefit greatly from the connection to a 1,600-room Spanish­owned Grand Palladium Hotel, has to date not been reporting that level of success with most of the food which is being used in the various resorts felt to be coming from the overseas market albeit a small amount is purchased from the farmers.
    But while agriculture is fast fading and the expected growth in tourism is growing has failed to provide adequate employment, another dilemma faces Eastern Hanover is the prolong closure of the constituency's lone garment factory, which employs several hundred people, mainly women many of whom have not been able to find work elsewhere at the Grand Palladium or other hotels.
    Courtney Hudson the marketing officer for the Cacoon Farmers Association, believes the unemployment and farming woes could be alleviated if a major agro-proeessing plant is established in the constituency and the Ministry of Agriculture pays better attention and provide technical expertise to farmers, "I think we could get a lot more done, but from a RADA point of view they need to provide more technical expertise to the farmers. Just meeting with the Farmers on the street side is not enough. The extension Officer needs to go into the fields and demonstrate to the people what it is that needs to be done."
    He continued by saying, "Bad roads and water are a major concerns and have existed over the span of different political administration. All we get is promises and nothing to alleviate the problem. Without these basic things farmers will be directly affected," he added
    "People will enter into agriculture if they know it is profitable and they can have ready markets, but if it is that they believe that there is no market there then they will not venture in the industry," said Howard Peterkin a resident of Woodlands. "People don't want to go into agriculture and have their produce perish," he added.
    With local elections scheduled for this year and general elections constitutionally due by 2012 many residents have told this newspaper that are turned off the political process this as the scant regards in which government treats agriculture which is a stark variation from the public sentiments that they have being making.

Email: crgoates (at) yahoo.com

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