JIS News

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the European Union (EU) yesterday (Jan. 7) signed 11 small grant contracts amounting to $11 million, to help former workers in the banana industry undertake alternative business ventures.
The grants represent the final component of a $400 million contract, which was signed between RADA and the European Commission in 2007, for the overall management and coordination of the diversification component of the EU Banana Support Programme (EUBSP). This is in keeping with RADA’s mission of encouraging sustainable rural development, through improved access to extension technology marketing, and financial services.
The beneficiaries are: the Dean Pen Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS); Flagstaff Home Economics Group; Mason Hall JAS; St. Catherine Apiary Development; Heywood Hall Home Economics Development Group; Fort George Progressive Action Group; Carter Mountain Beekeepers; Reach Production and Marketing Organisation; Reach Cottage Industry; Hector’s River JAS Group; and New Road JAS Progressive Group.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road premises, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton said the assistance being provided is in line with the Ministry’s ongoing development plans.
The beneficiaries, he said, were selected based on the economic viability of the projects they submitted for consideration, which include agro-processing; cottage industry, goat breeding, honey and hot pepper production.
He expressed the hope that the projects to be undertaken, will “stimulate small agro-business activity within the respective communities to replace the void that is left by the fallout in the export of banana production. It is hoped that it will help create jobs and sustain the families of those who are directly and indirectly involved”.
The $400 million allocation has gone to projects to assist displaced farmers and export workers in the traditional banana-growing areas, including a small loan revolving scheme valued at approximately $27 million; $22 million to support greenhouse production, with an additional allocation for the training of RADA extension officers; $13 million for the resuscitation of the dairy industry; and $42 million to support the fisheries sub-sector.
Meanwhile, Rural Development Attach