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Some 4,000 men and women working in farming and produce marketing, are to benefit from Ca$6.4 million, which will be pumped into the agricultural sector over the next three years, under the ‘Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity’ project.
“This project represents my vision for a different kind of sustainable agriculture that is modern and technologically advanced to promote the well-being of farmers and Jamaica,” said Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, on signing the Letter of Intent for the project yesterday (Nov. 24), at the Canadian High Commission on Waterloo Road in Kingston.
The Minister said the project was the country’s “largest and best” to date, in terms of tangible outcomes, and would become a catalyst for Jamaicans to engage in agriculture in a way that would be sustainable and lessen dependence on imports.
A tripartite agreement involving the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister Tufton said, was in harmony with development objectives, and would address two of the sub-sectors targeted for priority attention this financial year, namely fisheries and greenhouse technology.
The greenhouse component of the project, he said, would “increase the productivity levels of small-scale greenhouse producers to meet the demands of the hospitality and retail markets,” while for the fisheries sub-sector, the aim is to rehabilitate basic infrastructure and improve the fishing and environmental practices of fisher folk.
Greenhouse technology, as outlined in the project, includes pilot research, training and commercial development. Under the pilot research aspect, four mini greenhouses will be established and operated by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Greenhouse Unit as test sites, to ascertain best technology and conditions for selected crops.
The crops to be studied are lettuce, tomatoes, sweet pepper and hot pepper. During the process, 40 farmers will be trained and four acres of greenhouse capacity established with post harvest facilities in two clusters.
The core activities under the fisheries component will be research and development, rehabilitation of beaches, as well as training and capacity building.
Artificial reefs and lobster sanctuaries to replenish fishing stock and foster reef rehabilitation will be established at three marine sites, while six beaches, which were damaged by hurricanes, will be renovated. The scope of work will entail installation of sanitary facilities and hurricane-proof storage. Fisher-folk in the areas will also be trained in best fishing practices.
Canadian High Commissioner, Denis Kingsley and IICA Representative in Jamaica, Cynthia Currie, were the other signatories to the project.