JIS News

The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) has provided some $1.8 million to fund a cassava project, which will benefit over 100 farmers in St. Catherine.
The project was launched on Tuesday (March 30) at a ceremony held at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) St. Catherine Parish office in Linstead. Farmers in St. Catherine and officials from RADA, the JBI, the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) and the Jamaica Agricultural Society attended the ceremony.
Area Extension Officer for RADA, Vernon Williams said the cassava project would involve 100 farmers selected to plant approximately 20 hectares of cassava. Each beneficiary will be required to plant point-two zero hectares of cassava (1/2 acre). He said that the farmers were expected to contribute a total of $936,650 towards the project.
Additionally, the JBI will provide some $225,000 towards a ginger project for farmers in the Linstead Extension Area. Mr. Williams said that one hectare of the crop would be established and would involve 25 farmers, who will be required to cultivate 0.4 hectares each. Farmers involved in this project will contribute $255,658. At the end of the crop, each farmer would be required to return 68.04 kilograms of planting materials, which would then be distributed to other farmers.
Mr. Williams explained that the two projects would involve farmers within “a certain radius of WINDALCO,” and within communities such as Cross Road, Byndloss, Mount Rosser, Charlemount, Ewarton, River Head, White House, Cotton Piece, Orange Field, Jericho, Nut Shell and Waterloo. He said that certain schools within these communities would also receive assistance.
He said that cassava farmers would be assisted with inputs such as cassava sticks, fertilisers and herbicides, while the participants would be responsible for land clearing and preparation to establish their plots and for the application of fertilisers and herbicides. The RADA, through its extension officers will provide technical support to the farmers involved.
The RADA Extension Officer encouraged the farmers to continue planting cassava after they had reaped their first crop.
“You have a great responsibility in the programme to continue with it after the first year,” he emphasized. He also mentioned plans by the JBI to construct a cassava factory in the Ewarton community. “Already funds have been approved and the paper work is being done,” he added.
Mr. Williams said that there was a great demand for cassava and noted that a number of small bammy producers had mushroomed in the Linstead extension area over the past year.
According to Mr. Williams, there were times when cassava was in great demand, and the Cassava Bammy Factory in Twickenham Park had to be sourcing cassava from as far as St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and St. Thomas.
He said that RADA, which has responsibility for implementing the projects, would not be allowing the cultivation of cassava to be done at the same time but it would be “staggered” to ensure a continuous supply of the crop over a year.
“It will not be implemented over a one month or a two month or a three month period, but we’re going to stagger the planting of the cassava so that there will be supply over a one year period,” he said.
Referring to the implementation of the ginger project, he said that planting would begin within the next month and continue to the end of May.

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