St. Thomas-Agriculture & Industry
Both Bowden and Port Morant were busy harbours during the heyday of sugar and bananas. Most of St. Thomas’ large coconut plantations and sugar estates are no longer in operation, however, the sole surviving sugar factory in the parish is the Duckenfield Sugar Factory.
The United Fruit Company once had many flourishing banana plantations in the parish, but was forced to close due to the damaging effects of the Panama Disease. The Company pulled out, and the banana stations closed. Coconut and banana trees in St. Thomas were virtually wiped out by the hurricane of 1944 and many of those left standing were finally blown down in 1951 by Hurricane Charlie.
St. Thomas remains an important agricultural parish. The Plantain Garden and Morant River valleys remain the domain of large estates where sugar and bananas are grown for export. Cocoa is a popular small farmer crop and there has been a revival of coffee production in the more elevated areas of the Blue Mountains.
Coconuts used to be grown for copra that was made into coconut oil and animal feed. Now a small but thriving industry has emerged for the bottling of coconut water for the domestic beverage market. The harvesting of the “green” coconuts for the bottling industry has come at the expense of the older copra industry.
Small-scale near-shore fishing activities continue around the coasts of the parish. The oyster project at Bowden has collapsed but the growing of artemia at the Yallahs ponds is thriving.
Today, a few large areas are used for the cultivation of coconuts, sugarcane and bananas, but small farming is now the main agricultural practice in the parish. Despite changing weather patterns and occasional periods of drought, most crops do very well.
St. Thomas has been the incubator of some interesting agricultural developments. One such is the production of oysters at Bowden. These oysters are shipped to markets in Kingston and the North Coast tourism market. Another development is the production of artemia based at Yallahs Pond. The artemia are used as fish food, saving the country valuable foreign exchange.
Yallahs River 36.9 km (22.9 miles)
Plantain Garden River 34.9 km (21.7 miles)
Morant River 25.9 km (16.1 miles)
Blue Mountain 2256 m
Yallahs Hill 730 m (2,394 feet)
A small amount of marble is currently being mined from quarries in the Bath area of St. Thomas. Jamaica marbles come in various colours – pinkish-grey, grey-green and maroon. Some 100 tons are produced here annually primarily for use in the tile industry. In terms of capacity for polish, colour patterns and richness of colour, Jamaican marble compares favourably with those on the international market.
Talc and asbestos occur in the Hornblende schists of the area surrounding Bath.
Government Forest Reserves 13,158 hectares (32, 514 acres)
Private Woodland 74,138.4 hectares (183,200 acres)
*Cow Bay Swamp