The Grenada Government on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture granting a local company the right to lease the Grand Bras Estate.
The agreement with the Grenada Innovative Farms Limited (GIF) which was signed during a brief ceremony at the Ministerial Complex on Tuesday signaled the start of the commercialization of the Grand Bras Estate.
Grenada Innovative Farms Limited is a locally-owned and registered Agribusiness Company that will seek to transform the operations of the Grand Bras Estate.
One of the directors involved in the company is the former revolutionary figure, John “Chaulkie” Ventour, one of the 17 former army and government figures convicted for the bloody murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in October 1983.
Ventour told the media that details about the company’s plans for the estate would be disclosed at a later date during an organised press conference.
Speculation is rife that several of the former prisoners might be involved in the company.
He did indicate that the company would be using the Japanese business model in developing the estate.
The signing of the MOU is considered a milestone achievement in Government’s ongoing efforts to commercialize Government Estates as part of its thrust to increase domestic food production, reduce the high food import bill, increase foreign exchange earnings and create jobs in higher skilled areas.
The lease agreement between the Government and Grenada Innovative Farms Limited is for 30 years.
Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola commented on government’s leasing of 121 acres of its 200 acres, which comprises the Grand Bras Estate in St Andrew to Grenada Innovative Farms Limited.
He said that the remaining 79 acres of estate-lands would remain under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture for its ongoing Germ Plasm Programme.
Government also sees it as a significant achievement since July 2014 marks one year since Cabinet established a committee to oversee the process.
Both parties have worked out an arrangement for the estate workers who are represented by the Bank and General Workers Union and the Public Workers Union (PWU).
The workers have the option of choosing to remain employed on the estate with Grenada Innovative Farms Limited or apply for retirement as many are of that age.
The MOU was signed by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Simon Stiell, as well as Merina Jessamy, Permanent Secretary (Acting) with responsibility for Agriculture, Land and Environment and Liam James and John Ventour for GIF in the presence of Agriculture Minister, Roland Bhola.
Some of the remaining Government-controlled Estates identified for commercialisation are Bellevue, Mt. Reuil in St. Patrick’s and Limlair on the sister isle of Carriacou.
The second estate identified for possible commercialization will be the Bellevue Estate.
Government is said to be considering one of the two proposals for lease ownership including one by the state-owned Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).
The company to be awarded this estate lease could be decided later this month.