Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Brothers shun crime to make inroads in farming

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2022 | 12:08 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Kevan Watt shows off plantain growing on his farm in Rockfort, east Kingston. He also plants a range of agricultural produce.
Kevan Watt shows off plantain growing on his farm in Rockfort, east Kingston. He also plants a range of agricultural produce.
Davian Watt is attending to his vegetable plants.
Davian Watt is attending to his vegetable plants.

Jamaicans have long been encouraged to till the soil and Rockfort brothers Davian and Kevan Watt, who turned their backs on a life of crime, are now making significant strides as farmers in their community.

The men, who reside in Wareika Hill in east Kingston, have seen benefits from crop and vegetable harvesting last year and are looking forward to realising a bumper crop in 2022.

“By time we fi reach Coronation Market the fence line full, especially when we had the callaloo,” Kevan told The Gleaner.

The residents have welcomed the farm in their community, as accessibility to the market for the elderly has been problematic.

The area, measuring close to 50 acres, was a dumping ground and the brothers said they had to fight to secure the plot of land for farming.

“We literally almost get inna gun war just to stand where we standing now. You know the type of trouble we use to give and we a pree farming ya now and we fight for it,” Kevon said of the resistance they met upon.

Davian, the younger brother, is now a registered farmer with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), a statutory body under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

He made the plunge in agriculture after a life of violence. “Yuh see pon a big man level, if me did know say farming so nice from dem time deh til now probably we wouldn’t follow up the violence part of the thing. From we get involved in the farming, can tell yuh say we nuh look back on the violence side,” Davian said.

Substantial support

The brothers told The Gleaner that they have received substantial support from their Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell; councillor for the Norman Gardens division, Jacqueline Lewis, and a man identified only as Dane.

“From we turn da side ya we nah fi look back, if we nah sell chicken, we a sell plantain, banana and vegetables. The MP push we, councillor push we same way,” Davian said.

Their farming and agricultural practices have attracted local and international visitors who have commended the brothers for their achievements.

“A prepare we a prepare fi start push on back the crops on the bed. Sweet pepper, broccoli, tomato, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, cabbage. When we reap the cabbage dem pretty. And we get nice gungo,” Kevon told The Gleaner.

The irrigation water management employed on the farm turns over pleasant results for the sibling farmers.

They began banana and plantain production from only three suckers and have amassed more than 150 plants that continue to produce suckers for transplanting.

The brothers sowed 2,000 sweet peppers last year and are looking to boost production this year. The young farmers feel a sense of accomplishment as they are able to earn a living from farming while at the same time satisfying the demand for fresh produce from residents in surrounding communities.

They told The Gleaner that they are in need of additional farm tools and want to get other youth involved in farming.

“If dem youth ya did a pree like how we a pree right now, mi a tell yuh it woulda better this side ya. Yuh find say a me and mi breda alone inna the farming,” Kevon said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries reported a major increase in agricultural production for the last quarter of 2021.

Preliminary estimates for domestic crop production for the October to December quarter showed an increase of 18.2 per cent over the corresponding quarter of 2020, moving from 161,639.6 tonnes to 190,990 tonnes.

According to the ministry, significant contributors to the increased production were: condiments 12,755.7 tonnes (50.2 per cent), fruits 16,123.8 tonnes (36.5 per cent), and vegetables 67,498.5 tonnes (24.1 per cent).