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The official handing over of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) backyard poultry farming development project, took place yesterday ( September 28), at Mount Friendship in rural St. Andrew.
“This project has as its objective, helping rural and marginal urban poultry farmers and producers, and to improve their food security and nutrition indices, through sustainable and financially viable small scale poultry production,” said Roger Clarke, Minister of Agriculture and Lands, who spoke at the ceremony.
“What we really want to do is to deal with rural development. Rural poverty is even more intense than in the urban areas, and what we would like to see happening in Jamaica is a process which enables young people to remain in the rural areas,” he added.
Under the project, community members receive fully constructed poultry houses with packing and slaughtering facilities, a start-up flock of 200 birds, feed and a 650 gallon water tank with fittings, two tables, a double stainless steel sink, a two-burner stove and one 25-pound cylinder of cooking gas. The project, which is sponsored by the FAO, is expected to see the community members working together to make the venture profitable, so they can earn an income.
Now that the project has been handed over officially, the FAO has approved a United States Peace Corps Officer to assist with record-keeping for a period of six months.
To date, 10 broiler production units (200 birds each) have been established in two communities namely, Mount Friendship and Brandon Hill. Some 878 kilograms of chicken have been sold in the market so far, valued at $135,300.
“The FAO has spent US$59,215 in Jamaica as of July on training, construction and production inputs and national consultancy,” said Mr. Clarke. This sum has been taken from a total of US$379,000, which was approved by the FAO for the regional project.
“This demonstration group, based on the outcomes of the assessment of the model, will be used as the focus for further extension of the small scale broiler production enterprise among rural and peri-urban communities in this and other parishes,” said the Minister.
“This is very important, particularly for food safety, given the emphasis being placed on this type of enterprise amongst several communities. Greater resources will have to be put in and we intend to do so,” he added.
The Minister said that the initiative should strengthen the capacity of farmers to deal with poverty, “because we are about trying to deal with poverty alleviation”.
Dr. Dunstan Campbell, FAO Country Representative in Jamaica, said it is hoped that funds would be sourced to take the project to other parishes.
“In fact, the FAO, as a development partner with the Jamaican people, whenever the opportunity shows up, we would use this demonstration to say we have something that can be introduced in rural areas to alleviate poverty,” he said. “We are in the process now of actually doing the financial benefits of what it means to actually have a 200-bird coop with slaughtering equipment,” Dr. Campbell explained.
The project falls under the regional special programme for food security, which was approved by all Cariforum member states in October 2002.