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The Banana Support Project in the Ministry of Agriculture has been allocated $306.9 million in the 2008/09 Estimates of Expenditure, currently before the House of Representatives.
The project, which is funded by the Government and the European Union (EU), seeks to promote sustainable development in the traditional banana growing areas of Jamaica.
Under the Banana Improvement Programme, several contracts have been completed, including those for a Rural Diversification Project Baseline; ECOFIN Analysis of the Banana Industry, and for motor vehicles. Other activities undertaken included the: staging of a National Banana Resuscitation Campaign to support the resuscitation and training programme being implemented by the Banana Export Company (BECO); refurbishment of the banana booth at the Denbigh agricultural showground in Clarendon; ISO Certification training for officers, and implementation of a BECO service contract for the provision of technical and field support services.
The Rural Diversification Programme has seen the preparation of terms of reference for feasibility studies; receipt and evaluation of requests for Enterprise and Rural Development proposals, of which one grant contract was issued, and the drafting of two technical assistance contracts for the preparation and evaluation of grant proposals awarded.
For 2008/09, it is envisaged that under the project management component, a database will be established for the storage of information on all registered plantain and banana farmers; an Impact Monitoring Database will be created; all vacant posts within the Project Implementation Unit will be filled, and office space expanded; and training provided for staff involved in the project, the Ministry of Agriculture, and Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Under the Banana Improvement Project, it is anticipated that technical service, works, grant, and supplies contracts will be awarded; relevant research will be conducted, aimed at providing the requisite knowledge and skills training, extension services, and technology transfer; support for the development of a local tissue facility will be provided; general marketing and promotional campaigns in both domestic and export markets, as well as the provision of technical and field services through BECO, will continue.
Under the Rural Diversification Programme, it is envisaged that feasibility studies on various areas of interest will be conducted; a comprehensive development plan for the aquaculture sub-sector will be formulated and the developmental plan used as a model for alternatives to the banana sub-sector; rural enterprise development initiatives will be implemented; partnerships will be pursued with local and new foreign investors, and a public awareness campaign for the Rural Diversification Programme will be implemented, incorporating billboards, posters, exhibitions, and brochures.
The Banana Support Project is to be extended to December 2009.