Local, overseas farmers get Wales Estate land for rice cultivation

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Local and overseas-based farmers have been granted portions of land from the now closed Wales Sugar Estate to utilise for rice cultivation.

This was revealed during a press conference at the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) on Monday.

According to NICI’s Special Purpose Unit (SPU) Head Colvin Heath-London, his unit’s diversification team has been coordinating this process.

The foreign farmers hail from countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

According to Heath-London, these farmers are mostly interested in cultivating rice. To do this, however, sugar cane fields have to be converted into the swampy, semi-aquatic conditions needed for rice to grow.

“The predominant crop that these farmers want to put into production is rice. Presently we have over a 1000 acres under rice cultivation. And those farmers who have successfully been given leases are presently doing land conversion to plant their crops.”

In December 2016, Wales was the first of the sugar estates that was closed as part of government’s drive to downsize the sugar industry. Other Estates closed were Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall, all of which were re-opened in order to be privatised.