Sam Motta Demonstration & Training Centre… an Oasis on Mined-out Bauxite Lands

High school students on study attachment

The Sam Motta Demonstration and Training Centre (SMDTC) was established in 2000, through collaborative agreement between the Alumina Partners of Jamaica (ALPART) and CARDI.

 

The initial purpose of the Centre was to utilise reclaimed mined-out bauxite lands to produce forages which would be used to raise improved small ruminants (sheep & goats). The offspring of these animals would then be purchased by ALPART and distributed to relocated tenant farmers, to either start a small ruminant herd or improve existing ones. The SMDTC also provided an improved buck for stud service where farmers who were already rearing goats could take them for breeding. The service was an instant success with over 100 persons benefitting in the first year alone. To date the DTC has supplied breeding stock of the Boer, Nubian and Alpine breeds of goat and Dorper sheep to producers all over Jamaica.

 

The focus of the DTC changed gradually, as it not only served as a breeding station for small ruminants, but also as a demonstration site for an integrated production system on mined-out lands. The goat manure was converted into compost (pile and vermi-compost) and reintroduced to the soil for the production of forage. Mined-out soils are nutrient poor and the introduction of manure to the soil helps improve the soils productivity. CARDI was able to demonstrate that several vegetable crops (callaloo- amaranth, pak choi, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers), root crops (sweet potato, carrots) and stem tuber (irish potato) achieved a comparable yield to similar crops grown on unmined lands.

 

The SMDTC over the years, also served as a major training center for the dissemination of information related to the production and management of small ruminants. Students at different levels benefitted from field tours, field days and short term attachments.

 

Students from high schools (May Day, Porus, Winston Jones, Mile Gully) in the Parish of Manchester attested to the fact, that their CXC agricultural passes were enhanced through their attachments at the SMDTC.

 

Many of these students moved on to tertiary institutions and pursue agricultural careers. The SMDTC has been popular with tertiary students seeking internship opportunities. Students from the Knox Community College and College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) have received invaluable practical and theoretical training at the the facility.

 

The SMDTC has also served as a demonstration site for value added product development. The milk from the on-site goat dairy has been made into cheese, soaps and lotions. Farmers and artisans were also trained in leathercraft.

 

With the imminent phenomenon of climate change, the SMDTC also provided demonstrations on mitigation measures. A mini weather station, a greenhouse, water harvesting methodologies with pond liner and catchment facilities are all present on the station. The SMDTC, while demonstrating productivity of soils after bauxite mining, will also continue to conduct research aimed at enhancing lives of people in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

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