An initiative known as the Spring Bank/Johnson Mountain Small Scale Commercial Poultry Rearing Project has been launched in Spring Bank, St.Thomas at a cost of US$6,726.
The launching ceremony was held on Wednesday (Feb. 18) at the Church of God Ground of Truth Temple in Spring Bank. A ribbon was cut by State Minister for Transport and Works and Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Thomas, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, to officially open the first 538.19 square metres (50 square feet) broiler unit built behind the Church and stocked with 100 broiler chicks.
Jointly funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Paul Bogle Development Trust, the project is expected to benefit eight families who will be involved in the primary production of over 1,360.8 kilograms (3,000 pounds) of chicken meat.
The event was attended by residents and farmers of Spring Bank and Johnson Mountain, RADA officers, representatives of the St.Thomas Inter-Agency Committee, students and teachers of Johnson Mountain Primary and Spring Bank Basic schools. During the exercise, a plaque was presented to FAO representative Gladstone Barrett by Gwendolyn Spencer of the Paul Bogle Development Trust.
Initially, funds will be provided to construct eight broiler units and to purchase broiler chicks, feed and medication, while RADA will train the beneficiaries in broiler production and processing.
Additionally, the families will attend seminars on team building and economic self-sufficiency, the development of positive self-esteem, co-operative formulation and money management. It is expected that the families will assist in the construction of the broiler units and the rearing of the chicks.
Beneficiary of the project, Thelma Forest, a resident of Spring Bank told JIS news that she was happy to be part of the project knowing that it would benefit unemployed persons in the community.
“The programme will help us and even provide jobs for others because when its time for plucking we can ask for more persons to help us,” she said.
Miss Forest admitted that she had little knowledge of rearing chicken, and said that she was looking forward to attending the training sessions, which would begin shortly.
In his presentation, FAO representative Gladstone Barrett said that 11 Telefood projects valued at some US$90,000 had so far been approved in Jamaica. “We are committed to the fight against hunger and we consider our rural women as a major ally in this battle,” he said.
Mr. Barrett said the objective of the project was to provide supplementary household income to the families and to improve the status of families in adjoining areas. It will also provide valuable organic manure to support the sustainable cultural practice in the community such as coffee production and other crops.
RADA Parish Manager, Caswell Clover urged the beneficiaries to see the project as a business and to package the poultry meat to suit the “preferences of consumers.”
“Take it to another level and think how you can sectionalise your poultry meat at the farm level,” he said, noting that consumers preferred to buy only parts of the chicken that they like.
The Parish Manager said training sessions for the beneficiaries would focus on the processing and packaging of poultry meat.
“Look at this project as the beginning of something different. It is not the production of poultry meat, but how we are going to take this to another level as it relates to value added production,” Mr. Clover said.
Guest speaker, Dr. Fenton Ferguson commended the FAO for the “tremendous job” they have been doing worldwide and called on the citizens of Spring Bank to strengthen their cause by the outcome of the project.
He noted that the project was intended to “empower women in the community who can take care of themselves and their families.”
Dr. Ferguson said that a management committee would be put in place to monitor the project and “to ensure that the FAO gets value for money.”
“This is not a political give-a-way,” the Minister said, noting that the project was established to create employment and wealth by way of agricultural production.