KINGSTON — Several eager young men and women from the eastern St. Andrew communities of Kintyre and Highlight View (Mud Town), were on Friday (September 30) presented with ornamental fish farming systems to start their own businesses.
The project will enable 14 individuals to empower themselves, through employment in the thriving field of ornamental fish farming.
Speaking at the launch at the Kintyre Community Centre, Head of the Economics and Social Development Section, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Helen Jenkinson, said that the organisation has donated nearly $1 million to the project.
This amounted to about 88 per cent of the total costs, with the community members providing the balance, she pointed out.
The initiative, which is part of the EU’s Grants for Low Amounts (GOLAs) scheme, is being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in partnership with the Social Development Commission (SDC) and thePapine Development Area Committee (PDAC).
Mrs. Jenkinsonnoted that grants under GOLAs serve to fund community-based organisations, to carry out small scale projects of under $1.2 million.
“Under this third lot of grants, we wanted to emphasise activities targeting training and income generation, like this fish project, because these activities make a vital contribution to fighting crime, violence and poverty,” she said.
She advised the young entrepreneurs that to ensure that their businesses thrive, to look for potential partners and take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.
“I understand that there is quite a market for ornamental fish, especially in the United States, so it seems to me that you have chosen a good way to invest your time and money and I’m glad we’re able to support you with it,” she remarked.
Project Officer at JSIF, Rohan Bell said the Fund was pleased to be working with the EU on the project, which will help to provide employment for young people in the communities.
“There is a major unemployment problem in the communities of Kintyre and Highlight View (Mud Town), and what we’re doing here today can only put a small dent in that big problem, but it’s a start,” he stated.
He said that the two farms will provide employment for about 14 persons from the two communities, but with some effort could be expanded to provide employment for several more, in a year or so.
“The employment may not be big money jobs, but it will give you something to do and it will make you feel as though you have some control over your future,” he said.
Fish farmer and resident of Kintyre, Derrick Coombs, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed gratitude to the organisations involved in the project. He noted that, in the initial stages, they knew absolutely nothing about fish rearing, but by the completion of the theoretical aspect, they were well educated on all the intricacies of the practice.
“I believe this project can work but only if we, as the residents, buy into it. We are therefore willing to dedicate ourselves to nurture and protect this wonderful gift,” he remarked.
“We also charge the funders and the implementers to keep in touch with us, until we can stand on our own,” he added.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter