The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has received $35 million from the Government of Spain, to fund the construction of two greenhouses to promote protected agriculture, and to train extension officers and farmers from across the Caribbean region.
The money will go to the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Technology in Agriculture (CEATA), which was launched last March, as part of the restructuring programme towards promoting a more sustainable approach to the sector.
Speaking at the handing over of the cheque by Spanish Ambassador, His Excellency Jesus Silva Fernandez, at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens headquarters in Kingston, today (January 6), Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that the assistance would benefit not just Jamaica, but the region as a whole.
Director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Technology in Agriculture (CEATA), Dr. Derrick Deslandes (right), affixes his signature to documents confirming the receipt of a $35 million cheque from the Government of Spain to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, for CEATA. Observing are: Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left); Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Jesus Silva Fernandez, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Donovan Stanberry (standing).
“We intend to use those facilities (greenhouses) to expose the critical operatives – the extension officers and the farmers – to the protected agriculture technology, to promote best practices, to explore a variety of crops and by so doing, allow protected agriculture to be a part of the main stream, as opposed to the periphery of the agricultural thrust,” the Minister said.
He emphasised that the training component was critical, given the profile of the Jamaican farmer, which requires an aggressive training agenda. “Part of these funds will be used towards developing and executing a range of training modules in keeping with the challenges that we face and the outcomes that we would like to achieve,” he told the journalists.
Dr. Tufton expressed gratitude to the Spanish Government, stating that the funds would be used for the purpose for which it is intended.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left) and Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Jesus Silva Fernandez, sign receipt confirmation documents at this morning’s (January 6) ceremony for the handing over of a $35 million cheque by the Spanish Government for the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Technology in Agriculture (CETA). Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Donovan Stanberry, observes. The ceremony took place at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens headquarters in Kingston.
In his address, Ambassador Silva said that the project is a very good one, “because apart from the fact that it is meant for research and ultimately to increase and improve productivity of the agricultural sector in Jamaica and the region as a whole, it is also going to benefit individual farmers, who will have an opportunity to be trained in the Centre of Excellence”.
The Ambassador said his Government would make available approximately $35 million in its phase of funding, and that over a period of two years, it is anticipated that a total of US$2 million (J$180 million) would be expended on the project. “This is something that will depend on the performance and the feedback. The idea is to work together, so we are expecting that already the staff of CEATA is working together with Spanish experts to set up the technical site. We are also expecting some Spanish institutions to come over in the next month to start the training programme,” he disclosed.
The Centre will serve as a co-ordinating agency to address research and training in the agricultural sector. It comprises a large body of stakeholder groups representing international agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and local institutions that are involved in the promotion and capacity building of agriculture, such as the Scientific Research Council (SCR), the University of the West Indies, and Northern Caribbean University.
Although the centre will be located in Jamaica, it is intended to serve the entire region, and will be managed by a 15-member Advisory Board drawn from various local, regional and international agricultural related institutions.