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British High Commission announces major agriculture projects

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Jamaica is poised to benefit from two major projects coming out of the United Kingdom (UK) that are expected to create a boost for the local agricultural sector.

 British High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asif Ahmad, said that one of the projects is a $9.4-billion (£55-million) Government-funded development programme, while the other, which will be spearheaded by a private investor, will focus on bamboo cultivation.

 Ahmad, was speaking at the official opening of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) on Waterloo Road, St. Andrew, on July 17.

 He said that the £55-million project, which is slated to be launched within the next few weeks, will focus on implementing comprehensive developments within the sector.

 These include installing irrigation infrastructure; targeting specific crops for cultivation; facilitating access of farmers to local, regional and global markets; value-added inputs; and addressing climate change.

“When I first arrived here (as High Commissioner), this project was described to me… as an irrigation project. (But) it has to be far more than getting water from the hills to the fields. It has to be about everything… from growing (the right crops) to getting to markets within Jamaica, the region and… to other places,” Ahmad said.

He noted that his office and, by extension, the UK Government are keen on having discussions with the local authorities “about how we can make this project go from 'water to gold'.”

“We will work with you for the next three (or more) years… to make this a true success,” he added.

 Meanwhile, Ahmad said that the bamboo project will entail, among other things, the construction of a processing plant to convert pulp extract to paper.

 He pointed out that this is expected to lead to the development of the region's first diaper-manufacturing facility.

“That is the value of what Jamaica has to offer… what special projects like these can deliver… what agriculture can deliver. A prosperous and successful Jamaica makes a prosperous and successful United Kingdom, European Union (and) North America and other countries that have had no dealings whatsoever with Jamaica, as yet,” he noted.

 The JSEZA, which falls under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, was opened by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

 The authority is spearheading development of the Government's Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI), which seeks to position the country as the fourth node in the global supply chain, joining Rotterdam, Netherlands; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Singapore.

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