Agriculture remains important to Bernard Lodge development, says PM

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has sought to rebut criticisms that prime agricultural lands in the Bernard Lodge, St Catherine Area, are mostly being transformed into residential and commercial development.
The Prime Minister addressed the matter last week at the ground breaking for Sagicor's Portmore Promenade Development last week, saying agricultural use is being considered as part of the master plans for some of the former sugar lands.
"I know that a narrative has been carried, that we are substituting agricultural land for housing," he said, but countered that with the assertion that "we ensured that the development here encompasses... the agricultural potential but also the other potentials for development."
He said more modern agricultural practices are being encouraged.
Hundreds of acres in the Bernard Lodge area are former sugar lands.
The Government has shifted its focus for the area to mixed-use development of the land, incorporating commercial and residential projects as well as the retention of some sections for agriculture.
Noting that Bernard Lodge comprises 5,397 acres of land, he "one of the key highlights of this [Sagicor Promenade] development is the enhancement of agricultural opportunities."
In that regard, he said the government is increasing agricultural leases, "creating new sub-divisions for agriculture, providing rental concessions to relocated farmers, and equipping them with state of the art technology."
"This commitment to agriculture will not only support our farmers but also ensure food security for our growing community," he said.

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