JIS News

The work of the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) will be furthered through budgetary allocation of $170 million, as set out in the 2006/07 Estimates of Expenditure, which is now before the House of Representatives.
The government of Jamaica and Inter-American Development Bank-funded project aims to enhance the quality and delivery of agricultural support services mainly through improving extension, marketing and research services; upgrading existing systems for safeguarding animal and plant health and food safety; and supporting the implementation of selected productive projects in order to stimulate agribusiness development in rural areas.
Implemented in 2001, the project is being undertaken in three components, with component entailing the execution of eight agricultural support services contracts and conducting market studies on ornamental horticulture, spices and medicinal plants.
Component two will see the strengthening and consolidation of agricultural health and food safety services and animal health. This will be done through a animal health public awareness campaign; continuation of the animal identification programme; development and enactment of animal-related legislation; and acquisition and distribution of equipment, text, journals and databases.
In addition, the establishment of a plant health information system will be continued along with a review and update of plant health legislation and regulations. The surveillance mechanism will also be strengthened and expanded.
Component three of the project will involve implementation of 25 approved productive projects and dissemination of information in various forms, about the project.
Up to March 2006, the first component of the project has achieved improvement in agricultural support services delivery systems; signing of 42 Memoranda of Understanding with service providers as well as 50 contracts to supply a full range of agricultural support services, with 42 contracts executed.
The mechanism for the identification and prioritization of strategic commodities and regions has been implemented and a fund for agricultural support services procurement was established and put in operation.
Agricultural technology and strategic market intelligence have been acquired and disseminated, while research stations have been improved and equipment to strengthen the agricultural support services acquired and maintained. In addition, field office facilities of the Agricultural Research and Development Division (ARDD) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority have been upgraded, technical personnel and producers trained, and producer organisations strengthened.
Under component two of the project, achievements up to last month include: expansion, clarification and adoption of animal health policy; development of five animal-related legislation is now in progress; acquisition and distribution of equipment to the Veterinary Services Division; upgrading of central diagnostic laboratory; and the establishment and maintenance of a national livestock identification programme.
This component also saw the updating, approval and bringing into operation of a plant health policy; enactment of plant health legislation; hiring and deployment of personnel; development of plant health methodologies and printing of a manual; installation of electronic plant health surveillance and pest response database in Kingston and Montego Bay; and refurbishing and establishment of quarantine facilities.
In regards to food safety, a national food safety policy was established and adopted; an interim Agricultural Health and Food safety Committee was established, while legislation was developed, updated and enacted, in addition to the training and deployment of personnel. Laboratory practices were also enhanced.
Under the third segment of the project, a $6 million fund was established and put into operation, while a productive project operating mechanism was established and 25 sub-projects approved. In addition, the implementation of 30 productive projects was continued.
The Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Land.

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