Sale of Block ‘D’ of Montpelier Lands

Background
Montpelier Citrus Company Limited (MCC) is beneficially owned by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ), and was established in 1999 to acquire the assets of the Jamaica Orange Company Limited from the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Group Limited. The MCC property comprises three farms with acreage totaling approximately 1203 hectares (2,972 acres) of land situated in the parishes of St. James and Hanover.

montpelier

In May 2010, 524 acres of the 2,972 acres of land located in the parish of St. James was sold to Ramble Enterprise Limited (REL).

REL, a Jamaican company, started operations in 1976 and was registered as a limited liability company on March 5, 1992. The principals of REL have a strong and proven track record in dairy farming with established relationships with customers and a diversified product mix.

Achievements
The Company has reported that there have been areas of steady growth and development since the property was acquired in 2010:

  • In the Company’s Dairy operations, particularly with the core business of milk processing, production has increased by twenty percent (20%);
  • In the purified water production, there has been a ten percent (10%) increase in production. The Company has access to a spring on the property, which it uses to produce bottled spring water.
  • To date the company has invested a total of $37,700,000.

Challenges
Like many practitioners within the agricultural industry, REL has also reported areas of concern and challenge in its operations since the sale of the property in 2010. There has been a high incidence of praedial larceny, coupled with the loss of citrus trees as a result of disease and insect infestation. This has required an expensive maintenance and treatment regimen of clearing and cleaning heavy overgrown shrubs in the citrus groves.
In addition, the Company has needed to revisit aspects of its initial business plan. For example:

  • The production of fruit juice has been discontinued. However, there are plans to resume production in the future.
  • Sheep rearing, which was to have been a major aspect of REL’s operations, was not seen to be a viable business, and was discontinued.

REL noted that based on the business climate, there is a small staff compliment of twenty (20) individuals who are rotated in all facets of the business.

Ramble Enterprises Limited – An Excellent Corporate Citizen
REL is a product of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) family-owned business which maintains an excellent relationship with the community. The company is the main sponsor and caretaker of the Haughton Grove Basic School. Additionally, the company offers financial support to area schools, churches and other charity groups, as well as continuing to support and sponsor various Youth and Sports Groups in the Community.

Individuals within the neighboring community benefit from work experience, and opportunities to visit and observe operations at REL. The company also provides resource personnel to the Agricultural College, Knockalva Technical High School and Mount Ward Primary for motivational and career selection.

Conclusion
REL has exhibited steady growth of key areas of its business since privatisation in a challenging economy. There has been reconfiguration of the initial business plan, and the company has demonstrated competence in areas such as dairy operations and bottled water production. The promoters of this company, the Edwards family, continue to be excellent corporate citizens, contributing positively to the Hanover community. Considering the dearth of entrepreneurial activity within the agricultural space, the Edwards family-run Ramble Enterprises Limited should be viewed as a success story, taking idle and underutilized land and transforming it into productive enterprise.