Dislocated Banana Farmers Learn New Skills


About 60 farmers from Maldon, Maroon Town and adjoining communities in South St. James, dislocated as a result of the downturn in the Banana Industry, are receiving specialised training in other skills such as tiling and housekeeping.
The training projects are funded under the European Union Banana Resuscitation Programme, and carried out by the HEART/NTA’s Granville Vocational Training Centre (VTC).
It involves the training of approximately 25 persons in tiling techniques, and 35 in housekeeping. The sessions last five weeks and five months, respectively, and are being carried out in the communities.
Acting Manager of Granville VTC, Olga James, told JIS News that the participants had challenges attending the training centre, while others were unable to pass the entrance test, so the institution responded by assisting where necessary.
“Some persons who sat the test were successful while others could not afford to travel to the centre. We enrolled those who could come, and then we took the training to them in their home town,” Ms. James noted.
She observed that many persons who were willing to participate, could not manage the theory aspect of the training, hence arrangements were made for them to begin with the practical aspects, while plans were put in place for remedial instructions through the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL).

Sandra Chambers (left), from the Summer Hill Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) Branch and Phillip Wollery (right) from Granville, participating in a tiling project, carried out by the Granville Vocational Training Centre, in Maroon Town, St. James. This forms part of the the European Union funded Banana Retraining Programme for dislocated banana farmers in South St. James.

“I advised these applicants that I would go ahead and offer them the tiling, so that they could create a type of linkage with a construction company and get employed in order for them to, at least, be earning. During this period, they could begin to upgrade their literacy skills so that, in the long term, they could be enrolled in the construction programme,” Ms. James told JIS News.
She pointed out that the Summer Hill’s branch of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) partnered with the Granville VTC to accomplish the tiling training for the marginalised farmers, as well as other enthusiastic citizens from the communities.
One participant, Sandy Shirley, told JIS News that she was excited about the programme and was looking forward to her first job as a tiler.
“I went out and invited many persons to participate in the training, and they all turned up and have been trained. This is good for my community, because more of our young people are ready for the world of work,” she said.
She said that the training helped, “because there are many houses being constructed, and some contractors came and looked at us during the training.”
“These people are now offering us employment, to tile their houses as a group. We want to thank HEART and the European Union for helping us in this way,” she told JIS News.
Facilitators in the training project were Head of Section Linda Dowman, who did housekeeping, and Instructor Clifford Pinnock, who carried out the training in tiling techniques.

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