The Plants for Life Programme was officially launched on August 4, 2008 at the Bull Bay All Age School by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture. This programme is aimed at improving the socio-economic standard of participants and by extension, the community. It is also aimed at improving relations among stakeholders and encouraging selfsufficiency. The basis of the project is the cultivation of short term cash crops by householders. Carib Cement and its subsidiary, Jamaica Gypsum & Quarries Limited, JGQ, provide the seedlings and farming implements and facilitate the technical advice and input from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). To be able to supply seedlings to the community on a continuous basis, a nursery was established at the JGQ head office at Harbour Head, Kingston.
The first phase of the programme started with a modest number of 10 participants and quickly grew to 20. Householders grew tomatoes, sweet peppers and hot peppers. Some reaped as much as 25 pounds of tomatoes and 10 pounds of peppers. They were able to sell their excess produce for as much as $1400. These householders are very anxious to continue their backyard agricultural projects. RADA has advised that they should follow-up with different crops such as cabbage, bashment sorrel and pak-choi. They have also advised that crop rotation will alleviate insect and soil problems. RADA expressed satisfaction with this initiative and will continue working with householders for the sustainability of the Plants for Life Programme.
Carib Cement and JGQ will be encouraging more householders to participate and will replicate this model in other surrounding communities in the near future.