The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the European Commission (EC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU), on Monday (August 24), committing euro 5.9 million (approximately J$730 million) to a food facility initiative, in keeping with the Government’s food security programme.
The MoU was signed by Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton; Head of the EC’s Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni; and FAO representative to Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize, Dr. Dunstan Campbell.
The signing took place at the Ministry in Kingston. The funds are being disbursed over a two-year period, with technical assistance from the FAO’s local office.
The agreement also forms part of the EU’s euro 1 billion, two-year assistance package being extended to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and Latin American countries, to help cushion the impact of the global food crisis and to achieve food sovereignty.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (second right), hands a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the implementation of a food facility initiative, to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative to Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Belize, Dr. Dunstan Campbell (right), to affix his signature, at the Ministry in Kingston, on August 24. Also participating in the signing is Head of the European Commission (EC) Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni (second left). Guiding the process is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry (standing). At left is Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Al Powell.
The programme aims to reduce poverty and enhance the country’s food security, by assisting small farmers to increase their productivity and, by extension, position the country to counter challenges associated with rising food prices.
Dr. Tufton noted that one important aspect of this initiative is that it has a very strong developmental component.
“It is about capacity-building in the critical areas of developing our food security initiative. It is not aid in the traditional sense, it is about supporting the building of infrastructure to ensure that what is achieved (goes) beyond the two years that the programme is intended to support,” he said.
Ambassador Alemanni said that the food facility is being implemented at an appropriate time following the publication, by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) last week, of figures showing that agriculture remains the best performing sector in the Jamaican economy.
Dr. Campbell said that, under this project, 14 strategic areas have been identified and that, through these interventions, an overall increase of 30-40 per cent of existing production is expected. He said that this will directly benefit more than 5,000 small farmers and 2,000 rural and peri-urban dwellers.
The strategic areas to be addressed include; increasing land cultivation, by establishing a small farmer production model; and working through Producer Marketing Organisations (PMOs) to establish an additional 140 hectares of root crops across Jamaica.
This food facility initiative will also encourage the use of appropriate innovative technology, alternative agricultural techniques and post harvest practices for small scale farming through support and training. Under this component, four greenhouses will be established to provide quality seedlings, four storage and packing facilities for use by farmers’ groups and 14 organic demonstration sites will also be set up.
Increasing the use of small scale irrigation by providing equipment and training, and strengthening the Ministry’s existing backyard garden programme, by setting up demonstration sites in rural and peri-urban areas across the island, are other aspects of this project.
Additionally, 2,500 tonnes of fertiliser are to be provided at reduced costs to targeted small producers, to help boost production. Small livestock farmers will be assisted to adopt improved production practices, in order to address the huge gap between local meat production and market demand.