Agri-Support Services Strengthened


A sum of $72.5 million has been earmarked for the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) in the 2004/05 Estimates of Expenditure, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on March 31.
The allotment is expected to strengthen the delivery of the Agri-Support Services for Producers, which entails the market study on ornamental horticulture to be conducted by the Databank Division of the Ministry.
Additionally, a study is to be conducted on spices and medicinal plants, a domestic irrigation system to be installed at Bodles and the rehabilitation of facilities at the research station at Orange River in St. Mary.
Other anticipated targets are the strengthening and consolidating of agricultural health and food safety services. This will include the expansion of animal health policy to be clarified and adopted, the implementation of the animal health public awareness campaign, among others.
Under plant health, the project will for the fiscal year establish a plant health information system, the review of Plant Health legislation and the expansion and strengthening of the surveillance mechanism.
Meanwhile, the project will also establish a Food Safety Policy and develop legislation to be enacted for food safety. It will also during the period, finance selected activities in high payoff productive projects for agricultural producers and exports.
Some of these activities include the continuation of five projects in honey production, fish farming and fodder production and the implementation of seven projects presently being developed in areas such as hay production, pig breeding and ice cream manufacturing.
Up to October 2003, the project which started in April 2001, has achieved strengthening of the delivery of agricultural support services to producers, which include the establishment of the Agricultural Support Services and Productive Projects Fund Limited.
It also completed the irrigation system and rehabilitated pasturelands at Montpelier in St. James. One hundred and twenty-seven persons were trained in 10 short courses, including project preparation and identification, irrigation and water management, data base management and basic computer skills.
Other achievements of the projects are the renovation of the diagnostics and residue laboratories at the Veterinary Services Division, which is 80 per cent complete.

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