Organisations Receive Grants for Projects to Protect Environment


Several organisations have benefited from grants totaling US$180,000, under the Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), to aid in carrying out community projects in biodiversity conservation and the prevention of land degradation.
Beneficiaries signed Memoranda of Agreements (MoAs) at a ceremony, held at the Centre for Voluntary Social Services in Kingston, yesterday (June 9).
The Gravel Hill Community Benevolent Society; Hills United Development Organization, and Jamaica Sustainable Development Network (JSDN) have each received US$30,000; the Shortwood Foundation, US$25,000; Union Basic School, US$17,000; Sweetwater Agricultural Co-operative Society, US$19,000; and Ewarton Watershed and Farmers’ Co-operative Society Limited, US$29,000.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has implemented the GEF SGP, on behalf of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Donovan Stanberry, who spoke at the ceremony, said he was pleased to see that several of the grants would be used to focus on agricultural projects, “because the truth is, agriculture remains the major economic activity in this country.”
He argued that, but for a few farmers who were engaged in sugar and banana production, agriculture was really a small farmer activity, and “we have over 200,000 of them that we deal with daily.”
“Not only are they small, with an average plot size of about two acres or so, but it is also the case that these farmers are old, they have limited education and they have limited tenure in terms of titles, and so on. We must always remember those characteristics when we are designing programmes of intervention into this sector, because what we really need is to build (the) capacity of small farmers to help themselves,” Mr. Stanberry emphasized.
He also argued that small farmers were very capable and extremely resilient, citing the passage of Hurricane Dean in 2007, after which there was much concern about the availability of tomatoes, but that within two months, tomatoes flooded the market, “which speaks to resilience.”
He explained that marketing, business facilitation and new technologies could make significant differences in the agricultural sector.
“We are talking about basic things, for example the types of tools that our farmers use. Imagine, it might take you an entire day, if you are very efficient, to fork an acre of land.but there are small machines that can multiply your productivity many times fold, which do not necessarily cost a lot of money, and that is why in the Ministry, our focus right now is on reinventing our approach to extension services and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is at the core of all of that,” Mr. Stanberry said.
The Permanent Secretary said he was pleased that at least two of the projects would deal with greenhouses. “We are convinced in the Ministry of Agriculture that (with) those products that we grow in the greenhouses – cucumbers, sweet peppers, lettuce and tomatoes – (that) there is no reason in the world why we cannot be self-sufficient, at least in those products and I think we can, and that is why greenhouses are a big thing,” he noted.
Resident Representative of the UNDP, Minh Pham, said that the organization was seeking to co-ordinate and strengthen worldwide and national efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of environmental sustainability. “We have a special interest to see that all stakeholders, especially local communities (are) empowered to protect the environment, and understand that their own social and economic well-being is dependent on sound, long-term resource management,” he explained.
“The UNDP and the SGP recognize as well, the essential role that households, communities, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play in environmental conservation. Our premise is that an empowered community is an effective partner with the United Nations,” he added.
The GEF SGP was formed in response to the Earth Summit in 1992, which highlighted the need for innovative actions to protect the global environment. It aims to secure global environmental benefits by focusing on areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, protection of international waters, prevention of land degradation, and the elimination of persistent organic pollutants.

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