JIS News

Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke, has said that Jamaica has to date, received more than $29.5 million euros under the European Union (EU) Banana Support Programme.
The programme is the local component of the Special Framework of Assistance (SFA) initiative for traditional African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) suppliers of banana, which was introduced by the EU in June 1999, to improve the competitiveness of ACP banana producers and support diversification.
The Minister, who was speaking at a Rural Diversification Programme (RDP) workshop held recently at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, explained that the Banana Support Programme aimed to promote sustainable development in the traditional banana growing areas of St. Mary, Portland, Clarendon, St. Thomas, St. James and St. Catherine.
The programme has two components – the Banana Improvement Programme, which assists domestic and export banana and plantain farmers; and the RDP, which benefits ex-banana and plantain farmers, who exited the industry within this last decade, farm and port workers, who were laid off, and other people in the banana-growing communities that have been affected by the decline in the industry.
European Union Representative, Felice Zaccheo, in his address at the workshop, explained that the RDP “aims to identify agricultural and non-agricultural opportunities for economic diversification that are sustainable, market-driven and innovative and “which will support those persons forced to exit the banana industry.” It is estimated that the project will assist between 16,000 and 20,000 people.
He informed that the RDP had a financial commitment to date of approximately $669 million, and the total value of the support could reach $1 billion.
The programme’s four month pilot phase will be completed this month and the programme will be fully implemented in banana-producing areas of the country in the latter half of the year. The period of implementation for the programme, Mr. Zaccheo said, “will be six to seven years”.
Sub-projects identified under the programme are: agricultural production ventures including organic farming, protected cultivation, fruit tree crops, herbs and spices; non-agricultural ventures such as woodworking, plastic recycling, block-making, quarrying and craft; and tourism projects including eco-tourism, heritage-tourism, agro-tourism and bed and breakfast projects.
Also identified are services such as building and construction, transport, retailing, Internet marketing, and agricultural support including labour.

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