Papaya proving positive for Dumfries
For almost the entire lifetime of the oldest residents in Dumfries, sugar cane production was the community's lifeblood.
However, with the neighbouring Hampden Sugar Factory transitioning into rum production, the residents had no choice but to seek alternative means to earn a living.
Several plots of farmlands, which were once utilised by the estate for cane cultivation, are now growing papaya in a joint-venture arrangement between the Government and private owners.
For the people of Dumfries, the papaya initiative could not have come at a better time, given the lack of employment and job opportunities, outside of small-scale farming, for the residents who struggle daily to put food on their tables.
"You have persons that farm both livestock and crops, but it could be better ... . We need more support," said Andrea Gray, who owns a pig farm. "However, this new papaya development is giving a lot of people in the community work."
SOURCE OF INCOME
According to the residents, the papaya initiative has had a positive impact on the community because many persons, old and young, have been taking advantage of the opportunity to generate an income from the project.
Even residents of the neighbouring communities of Adelphi, in St James, and Wakefield and Deeside, across the Trelawny border, have managed to secure employment on the papaya farm.
"It takes some of the youth off the street and give them something to do ... . Many of them can't find any work elsewhere," said Lenroy Black, who is employed on the farm. "Even though it is a fairly new thing in the area, if you see someone not working, then it must be their choice because the work is there on the farm."
"The work is little by little ... . One set of workers work this week, and another set work the other week. It's a positive [thing] in the community," added Black.
Black's sentiments were reiterated by other residents, who noted that as long as the initiative continues and expands, farm jobs will always to be available to the people in Dumfries.