The Hi-Pro Division of the Jamaica Broilers Group has donated 260 bags of Hi-Pro Feed and 40 crop kits to small farmers in St. James who have been affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The donations form part of Hi-Pro’s #GROWSTRONG campaign, a five-month-long initiative during which Hi-Pro has committed to donating more than 3,000 bags of Hi-Pro Feed and more than 900 crop kits to small farmers across the island. More than 2,000 farmers are set to benefit from the initiative.
The crop kits include Hi-Pro-distributed PanDia seeds, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides and are ideal for planting a quarter-acre plot with crops such as cabbage, okra, cucumber, sweet pepper and watermelon.
The total product value allotted for distribution under the #GROWSTRONG initiative is some $23.6 million.
Vice President of Hi-Pro, Colonel Jaimie Ogilvie, said that the company was excited for the opportunity to partner with the island’s small farmers, as they are the backbone of the nation.
“We want to encourage you; do not give up. Times are challenging and there are always going to be challenges, but we have seen time and time again how resilient and focused our farmers are and we want to provide that kind of support,” he stated.
The Hi-Pro Vice President was addressing the initiative’s handover ceremony, which was held at the Montpelier Agricultural Showground in St. James on July 10.
He noted that the #GROWSTRONG initiative is also purposed to encourage other organisations to give support to the small farmers.
“Come on board… get involved, provide some support to the small farmers of Jamaica so we can improve our food security; Keep people in business, [and] get our productivity and supply chain back up and running,” he charged.
Colonel Ogilvie disclosed that, so far, the youngest beneficiary of the programme is a nine-year-old boy from Trelawny, and the oldest an 81-year-old woman from St. Ann.
“I think that shows the extent and the breadth of the agricultural [sector]; [There are] literally hundreds of thousands of small farmers that feed this country,” he noted.
For his part, Custos of St. James, Bishop the Hon. Conrad Pitkin, lauded Hi-Pro for lending its support to the small farmers of the island.
“Agriculture is not something we can stall temporarily – no matter what happens to the people of Jamaica, agriculture has to go on. We must endeavour to build our agricultural sector in this country, and, of course, Hi-Pro must be commended for this effort,” Custos Pitkin said.
“We trust and hope that all the beneficiaries will make good use of the gift they have received today; it’s not a handout, and it’s a gift to you. This effort to ensure that some of our farmers, not those who are in want but those who are in need and those that value farming, especially in our rural communities, will benefit from it – it will start to rebuild your families, to [fill] the gaps which have been created,” the Custos said.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis in his remarks, commended Hi-Pro for the assistance it is giving small farmers.
He noted that the donations will not only help to support the farmers but also it will help to support the economy of Jamaica and play a vital role in ensuring that the nation’s food security remains in good stead.
Mr. Davis also committed to ensuring that “the supplies will be distributed in an equitable, transparent and fair manner among the farmers who are in need, and not those who simply want”.
The Mayor further outlined that COVID-19 has changed the world and “now more than ever we all need each other to survive in this very difficult [time]”.
Meanwhile, the Mayor commended the farmers for “the resilience which they have displayed, for their hard work and commitment to feeding our nation. I also urge our farmers to accept today’s donations with gracious hearts, and in due time the fruits of your labour will be seen”.
For her part, Niagara, St. James based-farmer, Elaine Dennis, expressed gratitude for the donations given by Hi-Pro, while noting that she hopes the company continues to support small farmers.
Ms. Dennis, who was a champion farmer in last year’s staging of the Montpelier Agricultural Show and cultivates cucumbers, okras, string beans, pumpkins among other crops, also noted that Hi-Pro has always been a trusted brand for farmers.
To distribute the donations to St. James farmers, Hi-Pro partnered with the St. James Association of Branch Society (ABS) of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Howverne Enterprise, The Farm Hut, Time and Patience Bakery, Chin’s Haberdashery and the Small Ruminants Association of Jamaica.
Hi-Pro has also partnered with other organisations on the island such as the Dairy Development Board, the St. Ann Association of Branch Societies, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) – St. Catherine, the Rio Cobre Juvenile Corrections Centre, the Trelawny Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit, the Trelawny Association of Branch Societies and a number of Hi-Pro dealers, for distribution of the feed and kits.
In turn, entities will distribute the donations to their members and customers who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March and April of this year, Hi-Pro donated some 500,000 baby chicks to small farmers. In addition, the company is offering discounts on their Broiler Ration feed which will be made available to small farmers through Hi-Pro’s feed dealers until the end of August of this year.