Jamaicans who live outside the country but own unattended arable lands can now lease out their properties in a new investment drive by the country’s investment promotion agency to invest in agriculture.
The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is prioritizing agriculture as part of restrategizing the country’s foreign direct investments. The plan is also meant to salvage Jamaica’s food production capacity that is reeling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jamaica’s import-dependent food supply chain was hampered by COVID-forced restrictions in the last few months.
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“The question of food security has really become more vivid in people’s minds. If international trade starts to shut down, then we have to eat what we grow, and that has created greater urgency for us to leverage our idle lands,” said JAMPRO president, Diane Edwards.
The country of nearly three million inhabitants imports close to $1 billion worth of food, according to a local newspaper, The Gleaner. JAMPRO’s focus on agriculture could, therefore, scale down the degree of reliance on imported foods.
Interested landowners should own at least 100 acres or 484000 yards of arable land and must be willing to transfer via lease or other tenure arrangements to the state or suitable investors.
The investment drive will see the use of the leased lands for investment projects for agro-parks and greenhouse.
“In other words, we are trying to drive export expansion and improve security in agriculture; and in that way, drive the economy,” explained JAMPRO deputy head Gabriel Heron.
Farm labor should not be in short supply in the island nation. In April, The Gleaner reported that significant numbers of people traveled to the United States and Canada to find seasonal, mostly agricultural, jobs in spite of the threat posed by the coronavirus in North America.
The report said the people who seemed to walk a fine line between life and death also agreed to sign waivers to absolve their government of any liabilities.