JIS News

Some 300 former banana farmers in St. Thomas are to benefit from a $58,175, 502 (EU 480,000) project, which is aimed at identifying and creating alternative sources of employment to ensure their economic livelihood.
The project, which was launched yesterday (March 31) at the Robert Lightbourne High School in Trinityville, is being funded by the European Union Banana Support Programme (EUBSP) and Christian Aid (CA), a European-based charity, which provides support for disaster relief and poverty eradication.
It is being undertaken in collaboration with Women’s Resource Outreach Centre (WROC) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Titled ‘Creating sustainable livelihoods’, it will assist displaced banana farmers in Mount Vernon, Trinityville, Johnson Mountain, Spring Bank and Somerset, to find new ways of supporting their families outside of banana.
“Our focus is on 300 ex-banana workers and their families and approximately 3,000 community members,” said Executive Director of WROC, Dorothy Whyte.
She told JIS News, that some of the projects already identified included a chicken rearing and slaughtering venture, and the cultivation of peppers, carrots, and other cash crops “which can be easily sold and turned over to make money.” For the chicken project, beneficiaries will receive 50 chickens and all the necessary inputs such as medicine and feed.
“The only stipulation is that they will have to have a coop.we will build the slaughterhouses so that the chickens can be slaughtered in a very hygienic way because this is what is critical,” she stated.
Christian AID Representative Shelia Miller, in her remarks, noted that the goal of the project was to provide the beneficiaries with the necessary support to enable them to make a living. “We won’t give a fish but we’ll teach you to fish” she stated. “What we want is to enable you through community groups,” she added.
The project also involves the building of check-dams in Somerset, to prevent land slippages and flooding in the area. These dams are small barriers built across shallow rivers and streams, which serve as catchments during heavy rains or floods.
“We’re working in Fitzgerald Gully. We’re reconstructing some of the dams and building new dams above the old dams because after a while, the old dams fill up with debris and so the water just rushes over, so we’re building new dams to break the fall of the water so that the community will not be as flooded as it usually is,” Ms. Whyte explained.

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