Jamaica: Rastafarians demands redistribution of land for sugarcane farming

Jamaica: An appeal from the former chairman of the Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers Association- Ras Iyah V (Rastafarian elder) has been made to the government to redistribute the lands that were formerly used for sugar cane farming to high schools across the parish for the expansion of the farming programme.

The aim behind such an appeal is to allow the schools to be able to produce more of the local consumption and export. As per the thoughts of Rastafarian elders, such an initiative would significantly lead towards the reduction of the country’s agricultural import bills, projecting towards the economic development of the nation.

At present, the agricultural import bills of Jamaica stands at just over US$1 billion. Such a figure states a slight reduction in the first nine months of 2023.

In his appeal, he added, “ I am calling on the Government to ensure that agriculture is enforced in the schools and that land, especially the old sugar lands, should be given to schools.”

He specifically mentioned Frome Technical High School, Grange Hill High School, Little Dondon High School and the Manning’s School. Such a highlight is added being taken into consideration the fact that at the place, they can expand their agricultural offerings and can encourage more students to involve in the agriculture business.

Aligning to it, the community member stated that agriculture is one of the best ways to embrace the students’ interests to not just plant the food but to create an agro-industry programme so it can be ensured that the people can get the benefits from cheaper and better food to consume.

There are so many of the lands that are idle in Jamaica and can be used for the purpose of agriculture. Presenting the facts and figures, the Ras Iyah V cast light on the data provided by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. This stated that last year’s food imports were valued at US$1.038 billion. And, such a value had a slight downfall from US $1.04 during the same previous year.

Considerably, in that period, food was the third-largest import into Jamaica behind oil and gas which had a value of US $1.8 billion. And, 17.5% of the total import bills for Jamaica reached US$5.9 billion in September.

With having been recorded an increase in the food exports by 12%. Further, he raised a question, “why should we be importing millions in US dollars worth of food from countries that don’t have the climatic environment as we do in Jamaica?” With the question raised, he mentioned that in his opinion, agriculture should be compulsory up to grade 11 in high schools and that it would provide an aid to instill an understanding of the importance of agriculture as a business.

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