In keeping with the Government’s drive to promote sustainable development in the traditional banana growing areas of Jamaica, the Banana Support Project has received an allotment of $220 million in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.
The project, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through funding from the European Union, has so far seen the completion of a feasibility study for the establishment of a commercial tissue culture facility; completion of the refurbishment of a mill room; and three nurseries constructed to supply clean planting material to farmers.
Further, up to February 2012, eight kilometres of roads had been rehabilitated and drainage improved in St. Mary; water supply was expanded in Adelphi Mountain and Amity Hall, St. James; extension service and technology transfer had been provided to over 1,400 banana and plantain farmers; the road infrastructure in Tom’s hope and Seamans Valley had been improved; and a banana industry study was completed.
Also, a number of grants had been disbursed under the project, including money to: strengthen micro-financial institutions to improve service to farming communities; improve vocational, skill training and remedial learning; promote rural integrated development and enterprise; strengthen micro-financial institutions in banana growing areas; and strengthen capacities for sustainable livelihoods.
It is envisaged that for 2012/13 the project will continue to support the Banana Board for provision of technical services to the banana industry. Soil laboratories at the Bodles Research Station and the Rural Physical Planning Unit in the Agriculture Ministry will also be upgraded.
Additionally, it is anticipated that the implementation of rural enterprise development projects, being implemented by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in St. James and Clarendon and Food for the Poor in St. Thomas and St. Mary, will continue. The project is also expected to carry out the institutional strengthening of a number of rural development organisations.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter