Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Christopher Tufton, has endorsed the signing of four new contracts, Wednesday (February 3), under the European Union’s (EU) Banana Support Programme (EUBSP), which aim at diversifying Jamaica’s agricultural sector.
The signing ceremony at the Bodles Research Station, Old Harbour, St. Catherine saw the inking of contracts totaling $169 million with Forest Conservancy, the Cocoa Industry Board, Christian Aid and the Competitiveness Company.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), and Head of the Rural Development Section, European Union, Federico Berna, converse during the reopening of the rehabilitated artificial insemmination lab and handing over of a high-tech greenhouse, at Bodles in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, Wednesday (February 3).
The agreements are for grants for projects in communities affected by the fallout in the banana sector, and are aimed at increasing the production of alternative crops, as well as infrastructure improvements, training and the establishment of new markets.
Speaking at the function, Dr. Tufton said his Ministry fully endorsed efforts to find alternative economic activities, as well as the thrust to resuscitate rural life by organising communities around certain projects.
He commented that the concentration of economic activities in urban centres was a “mistake”, and that Jamaica’s development depended largely on the economic development of rural communities.
“If you create opportunities, no matter how simple it seems, and you provide those opportunities for Jamaicans who reside in the rural parts of our country, those opportunities have tremendous spin-offs and will aid in the process of development across the landscape of our country,” he insisted.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), hands over the contract for a project to be undertaken under the European Union (EU) Banana Support Programme to Competitiveness Associate at The Competitiveness Company, Jhenelle McIntyre, during a ceremony in which three other contracts were also signed and an artificial insemination lab and a high-tech greenhouse handed over to the Ministry, at Bodles Research Station, Old Harbour, St. Catherine, Wednesday (February 3). Looking on is Head of the Rural Development Section, European Union, Federico Berna.
Noting that most of rural Jamaica depends on Agriculture, he said the failure of the sector would lead to the demise of rural life. He commended the EU programme for its support to small agricultural projects in rural Jamaica.
He stated that evidence has shown that it is not necessarily multi-million dollar projects that provide the desired multiplier effects, but small businesses such as those supported by the EUBSP.
Wednesday’s ceremony also included the official reopening of a newly rehabilitated and equipped Artificial Insemination Lab and the handing over of a high-tech greenhouse. The lab is the first and only of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The projects were completed through the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the EUBSP.
Head of the Rural Development Section, European Commission to Jamaica, Frederico Berna, commended the Ministry on its work to encourage local food production, and said the EU was pleased to be a partner in the project.