JIS News

Farmers of the rural St. Catherine communities of Coolshade and Mexico will find it easier to transport their produce to market as some 3.4 km of the Coolshade to Mexico feeder road has been rehabilitated at a cost of $12.9 million.
Financed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the project involved the reshaping and laying of a new road sub-base, surfacing and the installation of a number of drains.
The community contributed five percent of the project cost in the form of bushing of the roadway, installation of V-drains, security and storage of materials, and the provision of rubble stones for rip-rap drains.
Addressing residents at a handing over ceremony last week at the Coolshade Miracle Gospel Lighthouse Church, Operations Manager of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said the Fund had invested some $300 million in the parish over the past eight years. This amount he said, contributed to 51 poverty alleviation and community projects, benefiting at least 53,000 persons.
According to Mr. Sweeney, the new road will lead to the development of agriculture and reduce the spoilage of produce, since farmers would reach markets on time. Farming is the mainstay of the two communities.
Guest Speaker and Field Operations Manager at the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Hugh Blackwood told farmers at the ceremony that the JAS was on “a path of renewal” and had implemented a number of strategies to assist farmers. Among these, he mentioned was the establishment of a central marketing system, a pilot project set up in St. Elizabeth and geared at providing markets for farmers.
“We have now begun to take your produce across the island once you are able to assure us that when we send the truck from St Elizabeth, we have enough produce to take in at a particular area,” he said. As a result of setting up the system, Mr. Blackwood explained the marketing project was now supplying produce to Super Clubs hotels. In addition, he said, the JAS would shortly sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Super Plus supermarkets and Mega Mart Food Stores across the island.
Mentioning other successes, the Field Operations Manager said the JAS recently hired a lawyer to deal with legal matters of the organisation as well as to assist farmers with difficulties they may have with their loan applications. Additionally, Mr. Blackwood said the farm store located at 67 Church Street in Kingston had been revamped.
“We have moved out the old stock and brought in a lot of new stock. We are hoping to open, if not for Christmas, certainly in the early weeks of January so you can get your fertilizer and other agricultural products at discounted prices,” he told farmers.
Also bringing greetings at the event were RADA Extension Officer, St Catherine Vernon Williams; Councillor for the Point Hill Division, Devon Wint, and Community Development Officer, Social Development Commission, Denzil Kerr.

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