CLARENDON, Jamaica — Former Monymusk Sugar Factory worker, Kamone Campbell, believes she has been “tossed a lifeline” with the launch of an agricultural project designed to create sustainable employment and a better way of life for former factory employees.
She is among a group of 15 people who are to benefit under the agricultural component of the Government’s socio economic programme for former employees of the factory, which seeks to facilitate alternative employment for the displaced workers and their dependents following the closure of the facility in 2018.
The project is a collaborative one with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) Limited, the Agro-Investment Corporation and the HEART Trust/ NTSA.
It will see a total of 164 acres of land in Hermitage, Clarendon being leased, and subdivided into smaller tracts of land between two and five acres, on a phased basis, to grow crops.
“This will benefit us a lot because we have families. We have children going to school and we are not working. If we are doing something like a cash crop, it can help to pay the mortgage, send the children to school and can employ some people,” she said.
Campbell, who is now unemployed after working two years with the sugar factory, noted that she is eager to begin planting so that she will be able to provide for herself and family.
“This means a lot to me. To sit down at home not doing anything is very hard because nobody is giving you anything. I am happy to know that I am doing something that can benefit everybody. Although I am not a farming person, I am willing to try and see how this works out,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Solomon Anderson, who has been with the factory for over 20 years, is equally happy to be involved in the farming project.
“Once we get this assistance, I will be able to help myself and to send my child to school. I will also be able to help the country,” he explained.
In remarks at the launch of the project in Hermitage, Clarendon, on February 20, Chief Executive Officer of the Agro-Investment Corporation, Dr Alexander Powell, said his organisation screened the beneficiaries to determine their commitment to the project and financial capabilities.
Powell urged the beneficiaries to read the contract documents carefully because it details payment terms, effective date of lease, conditions for renewal of lease, among other information.
“We are confident that the farmers selected are committed and dedicated to the achievement of the objectives of the project and that it will deliver employment, income and revenue and other growth and environmental services. This will be beneficial to the farmers, their family, the community and Jamaica at large,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green encouraged the farmers to “plant what works” in the area, especially castor bean, which has been gaining significance across the world.
He pointed out that two wells, which have been located in the surrounding areas, are to be tested by the NIC to test their use for irrigation to the fields.