The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has allotted over $60 million towards the funding of several programmes designed to create employment for individuals within the agricultural sector.
The programmes, which target approximately 1,000 persons, form part of the Ministry’s contribution to the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Principal Director, Field Services and Operations, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Winston Simpson, informed that so far, most of the programmes are “properly engaged."
The projects being undertaken include: the School Feeding Programme; Expansion of the RADA Twickenham Industry, which deals with agro-processing; the Re-verification and Registration of farmers; Urban Farming Initiatives; Community Residential Crop Care Programme; the Nursery Programme; and the Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance Programme.
He pointed out that most of the programmes, which are being undertaken islandwide, are at an “advanced” stage.
Mr. Simpson informed that the funds have been disbursed to the various parishes, with representatives from RADA monitoring the progress of the projects.
“Since we have received those funds, we have put all the programmes in train and funds have been disbursed to the various parishes,” he told JIS News.
The Principal Director informed that with the passage of Hurricane Sandy on October 24, the Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance Programme is in “high gear."
“The rehabilitation of farm roads is paramount at this time, in light of the fact that roads were damaged during the passage of the storm,” he said.
Mr. Simpson told JIS News that the School Feeding Programme “may suffer a little snag” due to the passage of the hurricane. Nonetheless, he advised that plans are being devised to ensure that the programme is up and running in the shortest possible time.
The JEEP is one of the strategies of the Government to respond to chronic unemployment among some Jamaicans, particularly those in lower socio-economic groups, persons with special needs, as well as those with low skill levels.
During phase one of JEEP, which ended recently, approximately 15,000 persons were employed in several Ministries and Agencies, undertaking tasks in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education and intensive labour.
For phase two, $6 billion has been earmarked to be spent on projects in the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries; Labour and Social Security; and Housing; HEART Trust/NTA and the National Housing Trust (NHT), among others.
It is projected that some 35,000 persons will be employed during this phase of the programme.