Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, is encouraging farmers’ groups to take advantage of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative, Phase II (REDI II).
The US$42 million programme will run over the next five years with the aim to improve both the agricultural and tourism sectors by enhancing access to markets and building climate-resilient approaches for targeted beneficiaries.
The emphasis is on enhancing linkages among producers, service providers and buyers to improve economies for small agricultural and tourism enterprises, while enhancing market access for these businesses.
Speaking at the Ministry’s town hall at the Treasure Beach Sports Park and Community Centre in the parish on Wednesday (Oct, 7), Mr. Green pointed out that organised groups can get up to US$500,000 for an approved project.
“My hope is that a lot of the farmers groups that are very well organised in St. Elizabeth (will) take advantage of the REDI II programme. What you need is a plan, a good idea, something that is viable and sustainable; something that can work,” he said.
He informed that applications have opened on the JSIF website and will close by the end of November. He is urging farmers’ groups “that are serious about building resources and infrastructure to waste little time in applying for support for a project”.
“How REDI II is structured, they have different programmes and projects at different caps. So you have to go on the JSIF website and you can look at the application process or contact your Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) extension officer and Social Development Commission (SDC) office, and they can walk you through the process,” the Minister explained.
“The focus must be around agribusiness, climate change and things of that nature. So for example, a farmers’ group can submit a plan about storage and build some storage in the area,” he pointed out.
Mr. Green noted that the support provided under the project will lead to a better performing agricultural sector.
The town hall featured participation from farmers from Treasure Beach, Flagaman, Nief Mountain District, Newmarket and other communities across St. Elizabeth.
Farmers were given the opportunity to voice recommendations to improve the local sector, including providing easier loan access, cold storage facilities, safety net support, subsidy programmes and more.
“We have come to hear from the best farmers in Jamaica; to hear how we can work with you to move agriculture forward,” said Mr. Green.