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    The Government is spending approximately $724 million on the Banana Support Project this fiscal year, as outlined in the 2009/10 Estimates of Expenditure, currently before the House of Representatives.
    The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue to administer this project, which is funded by the Government and the European Union.
    Its main objective is to promote sustainable development in the traditional crop growing areas of the country. The project is scheduled for completion in December 2012, having started in April 2005.
    Among the targets outlined for this fiscal year is a Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) grant contract for the administration, training and development of the project, as well as for the implementation of a small tools and equipment programme for 48 communities.
    The grant to RADA will also provide an investment fund to construct gear sheds and sanitary and vendor handling facilities for six beaches in four of the six traditional banana producing parishes.
    Included in the project is the rehabilitation of one major road and related infrastructure in the parishes of Portland, St. Mary and St. James.
    The Rural Diversification Programme is also to benefit from the project, in order to continue to monitor several contracts, such as the Banana Sector Re-training Project at HEART/NTA; institutional strengthening of micro-financial institutions at the
    St. Thomas Co-operative Credit Union; and the development of agro-tourism in the Buff Bay Valley.
    Physical targets initially envisaged were: ongoing technical and financial assistance to improve the viability of both export and domestic banana producers; to improve productivity and marketability while reducing the cost of production; and new economic agricultural and non-agricultural activities for farmers, farm workers and port workers.
    Achievements of the Banana Support Project up to January 2009 were: the establishment of a Project Steering Committee and Project Management Unit; completion of several contracts under the banana improvement programme, such as the economic and financial analysis of the banana industry; banana resuscitation campaign to support the revitalisation and training programme implemented by the Banana Export Company; eight grants were awarded to seven organisations with total sum disbursed more than
    $39 million; and grants were awarded for Rural Diversification and Enterprise Development in traditional banana growing areas as well as to provide social and economic infrastructure to the domestic crop communities.

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