A total of 620 young people in four rural parishes have been equipped with skills to earn a sustainable living under the Rural Youth Employment Project (RYEP).
Project Manager for the Rural Youth Employment Project (RYEP), Michael Matthews, emphasises the benefits of the programme during an interview with JIS News.
The US$1.25 million project, launched in March this year, targets unattached youth 15 to 25 year old, in the parishes of Trelawny, St. Ann, Manchester and
St. Thomas. They are benefitting from training in agriculture and business development, while being provided with increased access to post-harvest and agro-processing facilities. The aim is to increase their ability to access sustainable livelihood options, so as to reduce youth unemployment.
“We have provided training in respect of poultry management. There are a number of other such training that have taken place in greenhouse technology, in cash crop, goat rearing and a number of other areas,” says Project Manager for RYEP, Michael Matthews.
He tells JIS News that the idea for the programme came out of the last Social and Economic Survey conducted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), which showed a high incidence of poverty in the four targeted parishes.
The study, he says, indicated the need “for some targeted intervention to combat this whole matter of poverty.”
Mr. Matthews informs that a baseline study is being commissioned to assess in more detail, some of the socioeconomic variables identified by the PIOJ study, which contribute to the poverty levels in these parishes, and targeted interventions will be put in place to address them.
“But, we recognise that there is great urgency in implementing this project, so while this baseline study is being done, we are implementing phase one of the project,” he notes.
He explains to JIS News that for the initial phase, “we went to the major stakeholders in the parishes and asked them to, from their experience, identify the projects that are related to agriculture and agro-processing that they believe are a good fit for these parishes and to make recommendation to us as to which ones they would consider to implement.” The parish stakeholders also identified young persons, whom they believe, could benefit from the implementation of the specific projects.
“On that basis, we got data from them to develop a list, coming out of selection criteria that were previously developed and on that basis, we went ahead and we started the implementation of phase one of the project,” Mr. Matthews says.
According to the Project Manger, RYEP will establish a new class of business persons, who will create opportunities that will benefit entire communities.
“Persons, who were not previously gainfully occupied, will now get a chance to do so and create for themselves a livelihood. In addition, they will be able to employ others in the communities where they are located. In other words, we are expanding the economic cake in specific communities, so much so that as wide a cross section can benefit,” he points out.
“Over time, these businesses, based on the level of input that will be put in by us and the training that will be given, will become sustainable businesses that will become part of the overall landscape of the business sector in Jamaica. It will also reduce the whole issue of unattached youths,” he adds.
In the meantime, Mr. Matthews is urging more young people to participate in the programme. He tells JIS News that there is a challenge in getting unattached persons “to focus and to be attached to the extent they can benefit from this project.”
Young people interested in benefitting from RYEP are being advised to contact the Social Development Commission (SDC), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Jamaica 4- H Clubs, and the National Youth Service (NYS).
“We believe that this project is a good project and we are encouraging those in the parishes named to take advantage of this project. It can only redound to their benefit as it is geared to uplift a person’s socio economic status in these parishes,” Mr. Matthews says.
RYEP is a three-year initiative, which is being implemented by the Scientific Research Council (SRC) through support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).