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The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is to spend $38.4 million this fiscal year to continue to promote sustainable development in traditional banana growing areas.

This sum has been allocated in the budget for 2013/14, which will be examined by the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, beginning April 9.

The Banana Support Project, which is being funded by the European Union (EU), has seen a number of achievements up to February, 2013.

Some of these include: completion of several contracts, including the Rural Diversification Project Baseline Study; Economic & Financial (ECOFIN) analysis of the banana industry and motor vehicle procurement; completion of ISO certification training; completion of feasibility study for the establishment of a commercial tissue culture facility; procurement of equipment, machines, and supplies; procurement of satellite imagery and established GPS/GIS monitoring system; and improved drainage and rehabilitation of eight kilometres of roads in St. Mary.

Under the project, water supply was expanded in Adelphi Mountain and Amity Hall, St. James; road infrastructure in Tom’s Hope and Seamans Valley was improved; three nurseries were constructed to supply clean planting material to farmers; river training was done in Toms Hope, Portland; and extension service and technology transfer was provided to over 1,400 banana and plantain farmers.

Additionally, a banana industry study was completed; soil laboratory at Bodles was upgraded; and 10 automated weather stations were provided in the banana producing areas of three parishes.

This year allocation will fund the closing out of two industry competitiveness contracts, as well as three income creation grants, and all banana support project activities.

By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporters