JIS News

Displaced sugar workers in the Monymusk Sugar Dependent Area have received grants under the Economic Mitigation Programme, a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries initiative supported by the European Union (EU).
Speaking at the presentation at the Halse Hall Great House, Clarendon, recently, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, pointed out that so far 180 persons have benefitted from grants.
“We expect that approximately 623 persons will benefit from grants in the Monymusk area. We have issued some $27 million to those 180 (who have already received grants),” he stated. Female recipients received $170,000 each, while male recipients each received $150,000.
He told the recipients that in addition to the grants, they will be provided with technical support, in order to ensure that the grants are utilised in a way that is meaningful and will maintain a revenue stream for them to ensure survival.
“Ultimately, we hope that the resources will be used in a way that will benefit those recipients and their dependents,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said that the issue of housing for sugar workers is also being examined, and that a number of sugar workers will acquire properties received under previous engagement with respective sugar factories.
“There are a number of sugar workers that have benefitted over time from land and housing, that have engagement with respective sugar factories across Jamaica. Where those individuals benefit from acquiring these properties permanently, we are going to be fast tracking the titling process to ensure that they get their titles within a relatively short period of time.
He said that approximately 2,300 families have benefited to date, and that 3,000 titles will be generated to be issued to respective recipients.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles said that sugar cannot be allowed to die, as this would lead to the demise of many of the communities.
He called on farmers to return to cultivating sugar cane as praedial larceny is less prevalent in the sugar sector.
Charge d’Affaires at the Delegation of the European Union (EU), Helen Jenkinson, said that the grants to the displaced sugar workers fall under the EU agreed support package, Accompanying Measures, which is designed to assist Asia, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries involved in sugar production.
Following a ruling by the WTO in 2004, the EU amended its sugar regime and reformed the Sugar Protocol with the 18 ACP countries involved, including Jamaica. In order to assist ACP sugar exporting countries to adapt to a new regime, the EU agreed to a package of support known as Accompanying Measures, funded by annual grants, from 2006 through to 2015.
More than J$8 billion has been earmarked for Jamaica for the 2006 to 2010 period under the Accompanying Measures, of which over half has already been disbursed and nearly J$2 billion more will be disbursed by the end of the financial year.
To date, 390 grants were rolled out in 2009/10 at an estimated value of 65 million Euros, and the budget for grants for 2010/11 is J$480 million, which should cover, at least, 3,000 grants.
Mrs. Jenkinson said that under the social component of the sugar programme, displaced sugar workers will continue to have access to basic amenities.
Under the social component of the sugar programme, displaced sugar workers continue to have access to basic health and education facilities, on both public and private sugar estates. Families from the former barracks on each estate, where living conditions are generally poor and below a minimum standard, should be resettled shortly.
“Since clearly, the persons affected by the changes in the sugar industry need to find alternative ways of earning their living, the EU funding is also providing access to training programmes in preparation for alternative employment, or self-employment,” she said.