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JIS News

Young people from several communities in St. Catherine are to benefit from the setting up of a dehydration plant for the drying and processing of fruits for local and overseas markets.
The dehydration plant is one of several projects being developed at the Commodore Business Development Centre in Bog Walk, through support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Windalco; and Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine K.D. Knight, through funds from the Social and Economic Support Programme (SESP).
Mr. Knight, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, told JIS News that the dehydration project was a long-term one and would create employment for residents of Bog Walk, Sligoville, Above Rocks and surrounding communities. He informed that persons were now being trained to prepare fruits for processing, dehydration and storage.
He noted that the initiative would have far-reaching effect on rural agriculture and farmers in the project areas were anxiously awaiting the start-up of the plant.
“There shouldn’t be a problem with sourcing raw material”, Mr. Knight said, “as the Bog walk, Sligoville and Above Rocks areas are rich with a variety of fruit trees that presently go un-harvested”.
He pointed out that “many hotels use re-hydrated fruits as a part of their daily food preparation routine,” and these facilities would be targeted in the marketing effort.
The Commodore Business Development Centre is being established as a community-based enterprise and will operate as a cooperative.
In addition to the de-hydration project, the centre will also offer opportunities for training, employment and business creation in screen printing, jewellery making, fashion design and computer skills.
The Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) has approved the venture as a viable project.