FAO Calls for More Focus on Rural Development

Food and Agriculture (FAO) representative to Jamaica, Dr. Dunstan Campbell has charged the government to place greater focus on rural development, in order to reduce poverty and address the rural-urban drift.
“Jamaica must work towards an aggressive policy of looking at rural development,” he said, while addressing the launch of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Rabbit Project on Tuesday (Feb. 27) Rosehall 4-H Training Centre in St. Catherine.
Stating that a multi-sectoral approach was critical for the success and sustainability of rural development policies, Dr. Dunstan said that government stakeholders must collaborate on key issues that impact on the lives of people in rural communities.
“If we are to address the issue of poverty”, he added, “we will have to change our way of thinking. Currently, you find for example, that the Ministry of Agriculture goes to St. Catherine and the Ministry of Health goes to Portland, so though you may have a successful agricultural project, the fundamental issues that impact on rural development, such as health and education for instance, are not simultaneously addressed, and we have to change that,” he pointed out.
The FAO Representative noted that organizations, such as the 4-H movement, were making an “extremely” important contribution to the development of rural communities and the youth in particular, and “this rabbit project will continue to provide an opportunity for you (the clubs) to have an impact on the youth and for you to contribute to the economy”.
Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Lenworth Fulton, said that the near US$20,000 rabbit project, which is funded by the FAO, would increase the economic viability of the 4-H Clubs, especially the Rosehall Training Centre, while offering agricultural training for its clubites.
He said that the movement was taking a “a lead role” in rabbit production, as it was positioning itself to be the main source of rabbits for persons who either wanted to raise them as pets or for meat purposes. The project will start off with an estimated 70 pairs of rabbit, which is expected to multiply to about 600 in another 18 months.
“We are doing breeding so that persons can have rabbits to grow. In phase one of the project, we will provide rabbits for persons, who want to go into their own rabbit business and then as soon as that levels off, we will go into slaughtering as well,” he pointed out. The manure from the huts would be used for the clubs’ hydroponics/organic projects.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fulton noted that the organization would be submitting a proposal to the FAO, for a similar project to be established in another parish.

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