- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored ‘One One Coco’ project is having a positive impact on the agricultural sector.
- The project, which was launched in 2014 through the Source Farm Foundation and Eco-village Programme (SFFEP)’s ‘One One Coco’ Natural Farmers School, has been training local farmers in rudiments of Permaculture and Organic farming.
- This has resulted in more Jamaicans having access to ‘clean food’, that is not chemically nourished.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored ‘One One Coco’ project is having a positive impact on the agricultural sector.
The project, which was launched in 2014 through the Source Farm Foundation and Eco-village Programme (SFFEP)’s ‘One One Coco’ Natural Farmers School, has been training local farmers in rudiments of Permaculture and Organic farming.
This has resulted in more Jamaicans having access to ‘clean food’, that is not chemically nourished.
Nicola Shirley Phillips, Country Director of Jamaica Sustainable Farm Enterprise Programme (JSFEP), and the SFFEP, tells JIS News that over past two years, they have been working with local farmers who are interested in organic and natural farming.
Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques, such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control, while Permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.
Under the project, farmers are exposed to techniques in land preparation, surface water management, erosion control and drought resistant agricultural methods.
“We have some of the major industry players from the United States of America (USA) conducting these sessions, such as the author of the Standard for Organic Farming, Tony Kleese, and Chuck Marsh, who is a specialist in Permaculture,” Mrs. Shirley Phillips says.
“We also have the expertise of soil scientists who help the farmers to design their farms and land space,” she adds.
At the ‘One One Coco’ Natural Farmers School, participants are taught hands-on farm management and decision-making techniques as well as necessary farming practices, business skills and knowledge.
On February 12, the first training session for 2016 will be held in St. Thomas, while another session is scheduled for St. Ann on February 20.
Since the inception of the ‘One One Coco’ project, over 40 farmers have been trained, while many more have participated in workshops. After successfully completing the course the farmers are certified in organic farming.
Some training sessions are also open to individuals who are interested in nutraceuticals, natural remedies and the growing of medicinal crops.
The programme provides an outlet for the farmers to share their products with the public who want to access ‘clean food’, Mrs. Shirley Phillips tells JIS News.
On the second Saturday in each month, the Ujima Natural Farmers Market is held at the Chinese Cultural Association, 22 Barbican Road, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
“Ujima means collective work and responsibility, so farmers, young and old, from across the island who are trained in organic and natural practices, are provided with the space for them to be able to share their produce with people who are interested,” Mrs. Shirley Phillips points out.
She says there are several persons who have challenges and they cannot eat foods which are sprayed with various pesticides or have been genetically modified.
“So, this space provides them with an opportunity to get clean healthy food, that would be able to help them with their challenges. We also have a lot of people who are more aware of the benefits of eating healthy,” she notes.
Some of the items that will be available at the farmers’ market are: kale, lettuce, pepper, tomatoes, coconuts, onions, dill, cilantro, sage, mint and value added products.
According to Mrs. Shirley Phillips, persons who are interested in being a vendor at the Ujima Natural Farmers’ Market or who want to do natural or organic farming should call the Source Farm Foundation at 421-8838.
The ‘One One Coco’ project also gets technical and consultative support from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon, Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine and the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM).