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JIS News

Approximately 300 displaced banana farmers from Maroon Town and surrounding communities in the Southern St. James recently benefited from a workshop to assess their skills needs and guide them towards other job options.
Organised by the European Union-funded banana sector retraining programme, the event, held at Maldon Baptist Church, was the third in a series being held across the island, to assess the training and employment needs of farmers, who were impacted by the fallout in the banana industry, as a result of hurricanes and changes in the preferential arrangement with Europe.
“As a result of these changes, which are impacting on the export of banana, many farmers might be looking to either do other crops, move to other skill areas or strengthen their hopes for the domestic markets,” explained Programme Administrator, Ayanna Samuels.
“So, we want to get a better idea on the situation that presently exist and see what level of training we can assist them with, to help to provide sustainable income from these affected individuals from both banana and other sectors,” Ms. Samuels told JIS News.
The training programme, which started in October 2008, is targeted at displaced farmers in the main banana-growing parishes of Portland, St. Mary, St. Thomas, Clarendon, St. James and St. Catherine. It will culminate in December 2009 with an official closing ceremony.

Training Officer of HEART Trust/NTA’s Enterprise-based Training Division and Motivational Speaker, Vinton Vaz, addressing the more than 300 participants in the European Union-funded banana sector retraining workshop held at the Maldon Baptist Church in Maroon Town, St. James this morning (Jan. 7). The workshop was the third in a series of six scheduled to be held across Jamaica, aimed at assisting displaced banana workers and farmers.

According to Ms. Samuels, the findings and outcomes from the workshops will inform the development of a larger-scale programme of assistance for workers in the banana communities of Jamaica. The session will also help in the design of training and certification programmes to be implemented by HEART Trust/NTA at a later date, she further informed.
Ms. Samuels urged all farmers, affected by the fallout in the banana industry, to participate in the workshops so that they can be empowered to seek alternative employment.
Training Officer at HEART Trust/NTA and Motivational Speaker, Vinton Vaz, in his presentation at the workshop, said that persons must always be prepared for changes.
“Life is about change and all of us are called upon to look beyond our fears and seek to make changes as we move along in life. Set your goals and set them with clear plans as to how you are going to reach such goals, considering that there may be obstacles in your way. This is the best form of preparation,” he advised.
The training sessions continued yesterday (Jan. 12) at the York Town community centre in Clarendon.