Finalist: Alcoa, Inc.
Alcoa’s operation in Jamaica, Jamalco, mined bauxite in Mocho, an area comprising 14 communities with some 15,000 residents from the 1970’s through 1990’s. Mining operations there have ceased, but Jamalco is still involved in reclamation and rehabilitation activities in the community and supports efforts to help residents become self sufficient.
In recognition of the underlying unemployment issue, and consistent with the company's objectives to assist in building sustainable communities, Jamalco and Alcoa Foundation spearheaded the Mocho Greenhouse Training Center to create alternative economic opportunities for the community.
According to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), 72% of the population in Mocho depend on farming for their livelihood. In the spirit of the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” the Mocho Greenhouse Project trains farmers and prospective farmers in greenhouse technology or “protected farming.”
It helps them develop greenhouses as a business incubator providing alternative and lasting income generating projects that will ensure their food and economic security.
The project was developed with the Mocho Community Council with funding from the Alcoa Foundation, Jamalco, Food for the Poor and the US Agency for International Development (US-AID) and supported by the HEART Trust/National Training Agency.
The Overall Strategy
At Alcoa, sustainability is defined as using our values to build financial success, environmental excellence, and social responsibility in partnership with all stakeholders to deliver net long-term benefits to our shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities in which we operate.
Some of Jamalco’s facilities are located in communities plagued by low skill levels and high unemployment. As the single largest operating business in these areas, we help to ensure that the communities and the company flourish together.
The Mocho Greenhouse Training program supports Alcoa’s business strategy to help build sustainable communities. One such way is to return mined out lands to productive use. Jamalco donated 28 acres of mined out land on which the Mocho Greenhouse Training Center is built. As a mining manufacturing and innovation company, we’ve also provided expertise in project management, engineering and construction to ensure that the facility meets and exceeds the required standards.
The Greenhouse facility was formally leased to the Mocho Community Council and paved the way for the Council to access a $500,000 loan to expand the operations of four of the greenhouses that will be operated by community groups for commercial farming.
The training facility consists of training rooms and administrative offices constructed by Food for the Poor, six tunnel greenhouses and a water catchment pond and solar pump. Piping takes the water to four 2,000 gallon water tanks located at a high point above the greenhouses and irrigation infrastructure gravity feeds it to the greenhouses.
Through the Mocho Greenhouse Training Program, an initiative of the Jamalco Entrepreneurial Development Program, Jamalco, Alcoa Foundation and its partners are providing alternative income generating opportunities for the Mocho community.
“Jamalco has improved upon the way they give back to the community,” said E. Anderson of the Mocho Greenhouse Management Committee. “They have moved from individual assistance to a more community-based sustainable form of assistance.”
Two of the greenhouses are being used for training local farmers in greenhouse technology. Eight local farmers including seven women and one man are currently being trained at the center bringing the total number of farmers trained to 20.
The Council and trainee farmers begun reaping sweet peppers planted in one of the greenhouses. Another greenhouse is being used to raise cucumbers. This initiative has brought positive recognition to Mocho and provides sustainable economic development for the community. It has also provided local farmers with the skills around greenhouse technology. The farmers graduate with Level 2 certificates in Greenhouse Technology after completing courses including constructing the greenhouses. The farmers also have the option of accessing further training from HEART to take them to Levels 3 and 4.
The long-term plans for the facility is to have 40 greenhouse units being operated by community residents, a pig farm and a storage and distribution facility. At least 200 residents will be able to earn a livable wage through the program.