St. Mary-Industry and Investments

There is great potential in this parish for the extensive development o tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. Tourism is now the fastest growing sector of the economy in the parish, and some inroads have also been made in the industry. Agriculture remains the backbone of the parish’s economy.

Agriculture
When the banana industry in St. Mary was in its prime both owners of large plantations and small growers operated profitably.

In the late 1940s and 50s, Panama disease destroyed many of St. Mary’s banana plants. Recovery only came to the industry in 1959 with the introduction of the Lacatan banana, a disease-resistant variety which replaced the very susceptible Gros Michel variety.

St. Mary is a large producer of bananas, sugar cane, citrus, cocoa and pimento. It is said that virtually every crop thrives here.

St. Mary has benefited from programmes that support the banana industry. The Government earmarked $724 million on the Banana Support Project in the 2009/10. Physical targets initially envisaged were: ongoing technical and financial assistance to improve the viability of both export and domestic banana producers; to improve productivity and marketability while reducing the cost of production; and new economic agricultural and non-agricultural activities for farmers, farm workers and port workers.
Achievements of the Banana Support Project up to January 2009 were: the establishment of a Project Steering Committee and Project Management Unit; completion of several contracts under the banana improvement programme, such as the economic and financial analysis of the banana industry; banana resuscitation campaign to support the revitalisation and training programme implemented by the Banana Export Company; eight grants were awarded to seven organisations with total sum disbursed more than $39 million; and grants were awarded for Rural Diversification and Enterprise Development in traditional banana growing areas as well as to provide social and economic infrastructure to the domestic crop communities.
The European Union has spent also a significant amount of money to develop agricultural and non-agricultural projects in Jamaica, to provide income to substitute for the losses occurring from the scaling down of the banana industry, under the European Union Banana Support Programme. The total contribution over 10 years has been € 3,490,000.00.

TOURISM
The parish has a small number of high-quality, successful, tourism- related properties and attractions.

Transportation

 Distance from the capital, Port Maria…
o To Kingston – 70.8 km (44 miles)
o To Montego Bay – 141.6 km (88 miles)
o To Negril – 225.3 km (140 miles)
o To Ocho Rios – 33.8 km (21 miles)

St. Mary-Main Towns

The three main towns in the parish are Port Maria, Oracabessa, and Annotto Bay.

Port Maria
Port Maria is the capital town of the parish. Located on the coast, the town has a good harbor in which lies Cabritta Isle. As the parish capital, the principal buildings are found here.

Oracabessa
Oracabessa is located west of Port Maria on the main road leading to the neighbouring parish of St. Ann. The name Oracabessa is thought to have been derived from the Spanish ‘oro de cabeza’ meaning Golden Head. Oracabessa is a farming town.

Annotto Bay
Annotto Bay is a seacoast town on the western side of the mouth of the Wag Water River, one of St. Mary’s many rivers. In its heyday, Annotto Bay boasted a rich sugar estate, Grays Inn, but this sugar factory no longer functions. The rusting smoke stacks that once billowed forth life on this estate now stand idle.

OTHER IMPORTANT TOWNS

Highgate
Highgate is a busy, bustling, agricultural and commercial centre.

Richmond
Formerly known as Meeks Springs, Richmond is a residential and farming area. Here is located Jamaica’s first ‘prison without bars’- Richmond Prison.