JIS News

The $300 million Eastern Jamaica Agricultural Support Project (EJASP) had its closing out ceremony yesterday (Dec. 21), signalling the end of the initial investment phase, which started in 2000.
The project, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is aimed at improving the livelihood of small-scale household farmers within the project areas.
A number of these farmers were presented with awards for their outstanding achievements in areas such as goat rearing; ginger cultivation; planting of short-term crops such as yams, peppers and carrots; permanent tree crop production; and small-scale irrigation.
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke, who addressed the ceremony held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, charged the farmers involved in the project to make that commitment to continue with the start they have received and to improve upon it.
“The start you have gotten is a start to move up higher. Don’t throw up your hands. Get back out there and improve on what you have,” he encouraged them, while adding that RADA would always be willing to help.
The Minister also thanked the EU for its support to the local agricultural sector over the years, pointing out that the Morant Yallahs programme and its successor EJASP, were both operated at a cost of some $550 million and benefited farmers in the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary and parts of St. Andrew.
Added to that, the Minister said that under the EU banana programme some $2 billion have already been spent out of a committed $4 billion.
Minister Clarke noted that EJASP had changed the lives of a myriad of farmers in the project areas. “The commitment displayed by the EU towards rural development is a commitment that the government has in the development of our rural areas,” he stated.
Ambassador Gerd Jarchow, Head of the European Commission delegation to Jamaica, noted that EJASP was an example of the EU’s longstanding commitment to poverty alleviation and rural development in Jamaica. Since its inception in 2000, Ambassador Jarchow said, EJASP has constantly supported the farmers of Eastern Jamaica in their efforts to strengthen production and improve the marketing of cash crops. “I think EJASP has successfully achieved and even in some cases exceeded its objective and has contributed to income generation among the farming households in Jamaica,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Project Manager Leslie Grant, in his overview of the project, noted that the initiative was designed to address the high cost and unreliable supply of quality farm inputs; inadequate market outlets and information; inadequate extension service; low availability of appropriate technology; poor road access to farms; lack of irrigation and inappropriate land use practices.
“The project main focus in addressing these issues was on the implementation of financially viable, technically feasible, income generating sub-projects and in this regard, a total of 82 sub-projects have been implemented such as livestock, honey production, agri processing, small scale irrigation and road rehabilitation,” he informed.
A total of 7,000 farmers have participated and benefited under the programme, which, he said, exceeded the original target by 20 per cent. Of the $300 million of project budget, some $150 million went directly to these sub-projects.