JIS News

The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has embarked on a series of sensitisation meetings across the island, to heighten farmers’ awareness about its Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) programme, and how it will benefit them.
The programme, which was launched earlier this year, is being funded by the World Bank and is expected to benefit more than 22,000 persons in rural communities.
“This project is going to be carried out in eight parishes namely, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, St. James, Trelawny and St. Ann.
Sensitisation sessions have been held thus far in the parishes of Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. James, Trelawny and now in St. Ann,” Agricultural Specialist at JSIF, Vincent Thompson, informed JIS News.
Mr. Thompson was the main presenter at the St. Ann leg of the REDI sensitisation meeting, which was held at the Claremont Anglican Church Hall, on May 26.
He said that the US$15 million project would be carried out over six years, and would provide financial and technical support through grants for eligible projects in two components.
Mr. Thompson explained that certain conditions would have to be met by the farmers to be selected for the programme. “First, they would have to organise themselves into a group, and be registered with the department of co-operatives, either as a co-operative itself or a friendly society or a benevolent society,” he said.
He added that the group would then be required to make a contribution of 20 per cent of the grant funds, 10 per cent of which should be in cash and the remaining 10 per cent in sweat equity.
“REDI is now ready for the farmers and I think it is an excellent programme. A programme that provides 80 per cent grant funding and you only have to contribute 10 per cent cash, I think it is a ‘win win’ situation,” Mr. Thompson said.
He encouraged interested farmers to contact their Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) offices or the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) office in their area, to access application forms for the programme.
Meanwhile, St. Ann Parish Manager for RADA, Pedro Worghs, commended JSIF for launching the REDI programme and for hosting the sensitisation meeting for farmers.
“The sensitisation meeting is very timely, because in this parish we have roughly 60 Production and Marketing Organization (PMO) groups that we are working with and they are all at different functioning levels. The REDI programme will assist in strengthening these PMOs and allow them to be able to develop some projects in their community that will provide employment for a number of persons in the various communities,” Mr. Worghs told JIS News.
He assured that RADA would be very active in monitoring the farmer groups, so that they could become registered co-operatives, friendly societies or benevolent societies.
“Our extension officers will be out there assisting these groups, so that they can be off to a good start with this programme,” he said.
One member of the Retreat PMO group in Brown’s Town, Jean Watson told JIS News that she was happy that the sensitisation meeting was held in the parish and that the programme was on stream to assist the farmers. “What I like about the REDI programme is that it is a group project, where we can all work together for the improvement of the community at a local level and what is good about it is that it will not only benefit one person, but all the members of the group,” Mrs. Watson said.
She added that her group was excited and eager to get started on a goat rearing project.
A member of the Claremont Farmers’ group, Rema Rattigan said that the programme was a good one, that could help to encourage young people to venture into agriculture.
“The REDI programme is a good programme and as for my group, we plan to work together so that whatever we do, will be of benefit to us and our community. It is also good for the young people out there who are looking at farming in a negative way; they can come in and see that farming is a business and they can become independent through farming,” Mrs. Rattigan told JIS News.
The REDI programme, which has been endorsed by Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, and Agriculture Minister, Hon.Dr. Christopher Tufton, will provide grants of a maximum of US$50,000 to micro and small agricultural and rural tourism entrepreneurs.
It will also provide maximum grants of US$200,000 for community-type infrastructure development, and technical assistance to improve marketing and management.

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