Member of Parliament for St. Ann South East, Lisa Hannah, said a facility once closed in her constituency is being transformed, and already has been licensed to operate as a special economic zone especially for small farmers throughout the constituency.
She further stated that about 150 people will find meaningful employment when the facility becomes fully operational within the next two years.
Hannah, during her State of the Constituency Debate in parliament on Tuesday (November 26), explained: “We took over the closed factory down by Lydford in Claremont which was 180,000 square feet of cold and dry storage and, in October of this year, Lydford Logistics received a special economic zone licence. So, South East St. Ann, with two exits on the highway and the port very close by, now has its first special economic zone for business.”
“We are still at an early stage, but already we have employed 70 persons there. We hope to be fully operational in 24 months, and we hope to have 150 people engaged. The complex will be involved in manufacturing, [and] agro-processing third party logistic services,” Hannah further told the parliament.
She said the facility will enable several farmers to have access to much larger markets.
“Whereas before they probably had a market of 3 million, we are now going to give them a market of 100 million people around the world…” Hannah promised.
She added: “No business can really plan effectively if you have price movements between $40 to $250 in a year – and that’s what you are seeing with a lot of the crops right now. What was lacking was internationally certified agro-processing facilities focused on providing reliable supplies of agro-products to the local and foreign markets. So, I decided to invest in such a facility in my constituency – personally.”
The parliamentarian, in the meantime, lamented that enough is not being done by agencies such as the state-owned Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to assist small farmers.
“We have failed to improve the quality of the average Jamaican small farmer, largely because we are really not focused on the right crops, and we have not incentivised them or given them any kind of major export sale or even local guaranteed market,” Hannah reasoned.
“Also, if RADA is supposed to be the JTB (Jamaica Tourist Board) of agriculture, we also have to reorient RADA. I can’t have a situation where I have two [RADA] extension officers in a constituency of my size helping small farmers,” the parliamentarian further posited.
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