Japanese Government Funds Fruit Processing Project in Top Mountain

The Japanese Embassy, under its Grass Roots and Human Security project, has signed a US$88,000 grant agreement with the Top Mountain Citizens Association, for the establishment of a fruit processing and skills training project in the St. Catherine community.
Under the agreement, which was signed yesterday (Feb. 15) at the Embassy’s offices on Oxford Road, Kingston, the Government of Japan will facilitate the construction of a training and fruit processing facility and provide equipment for the facility to produce jams, jellies and juices using indigenous fruits in the area such as mangoes and otaheite apples.
The Japanese will also provide a motor vehicle to aid the small cottage industry in the delivery of supplies and products to markets and facilitate a trainer’s programme that will be implemented with the assistance of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masahiro Obata, in his remarks at the signing ceremony, said that the life of persons within the Top Mountain community should improve under this project.
“The vision of this community self-help effort is not unfamiliar to the Jamaican landscape, and is not the first one to be funded by the government of Japan. The simplicity of the project is its strength, and it pronounces that a community should see the opportunity in its natural resources,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Senator Kern Spencer, said that he was very pleased that Japan had decided to provide a grant for the project, noting that the move was an “expression of confidence in our indigenous crops and the potential of our cottage industry”.
“For many years, we have been complaining about our indigenous fruits going to waste right across the island. For me, every wasted fruit represents a lost opportunity, so it’s extremely important that we latch on to this opportunity to use our indigenous materials to make juices, purees and to explore other possibilities,” he added.
According to Senator Spencer, the Scientific Research Council has been conducting research aimed at creating value-added products from local agricultural crops, which could provide significant socio-economic benefits to communities.
“We believe the production of local value-added products will stimulate greater demand for our agricultural crops, thereby increasing the market size for agro products and creating more opportunities in communities such as Top Mountain,” he said.
The State Minister noted that already on the market was flour produced from yam and breadfruit, and chips from banana, potato, plantain, cassava and breadfruit. “We have also developed numerous condiments, preservatives, liquors, jams and jellies,” he pointed out.
In his remarks, President of the Top Mountain Citizens Association, Robert Brown, said that he was very grateful for the assistance to the community. “It is a great day for our association and our area where we live. The excitement in Top Mountain is in top gear and we look forward to working with the Embassy of Japan and RADA to make the jam, jellies and juice produced from this facility the very best in Jamaica,” said Mr. Brown.

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