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The Jamaica 4-H Movement is to embark on a $350 million upgrading and expansion programme.
Details of the programme were announced by Senator Norman Grant, Chairman of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, at their National Achievement Day, held at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon on Friday, April 28.
“The programme is aimed at expanding the capital capacity of our centres across the island, to offer greater training of our young people and also lead to more commercial projects. So while we are training our young people, we want to open 4-H activities to commercialization that helps to propel the 4-H brand to generate income for the movement,” he explained.
Senator Grant said development would take place at the 4-H headquarters in Kingston costing about $150 million, with the construction of a modern office building, training, conference, hostel, home economics and restaurant facilities.
“This for us is extremely important as the 4-H building is in the centre of the commercial activities in uptown Kingston, and we’re seeking financing from the financial institutions as a commercial project. We have done all the plans, which have shown that over a 10 to 50-year period it is an easy payback at a rate of return in excess of 20 per cent per annum. So that’s going very well,” he said.
He pointed out that within the next six to nine months, some activity should commence on the project and construction should be completed between 24 and 36 months.
The Denbigh 4-H Training Centre in Clarendon, which can now accommodate 80 clubbites in residence, will be improved to house 450 clubbites. Training, conference, home economics and office facilities will also be upgraded. The project will cost $55 million.
Senator Grant said the project was being carried out through a partnership with the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), involving a 99-year lease arrangement for the present facilities.
The Rosehall training centre in Linstead, St. Catherine, which can now accommodate 120 residential clubbites, will be expanded to house some 350 clubbites. Also to be expanded are kitchen, dining, training and conference facilities. This project is expected to cost about $45 million.
Additionally, the Long Pond centre in Manchester will be upgraded to include a nursery, residential facilities for 200 clubbites, fencing, improved roads and a storage room.
Senator Grant said other centres which required upgrading were: Salisbury Plain in St. Andrew, New Forest in Trelawny, Bog in Westmoreland, Thatchfield in St. Ann, Font Hill in St. Thomas, Warminster in St. Elizabeth, Duke Street in Kingston, Georgia in Hanover, and Roehampton in St. James. The total cost of restoration for these facilities is $60 million.
He noted that overall, residential facilities would be improved islandwide to accommodate about 1,500 clubbites, while training facilities would be available year round. The Senator added that over time, the Movement would offer the facilities to the public for weddings, training seminars, school outings, and church conferences, as part of their commercial project.