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    Three important parochial roads in banana growing areas of St. James have benefited from funding provided through the European Union’s Banana Support Programme, which assists areas affected by the loss of export markets.
    Chairman of the St. James Parish Council and Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair Jnr., made the declaration on Wednesday(March 11) during the contract signing ceremony
    “The European Union Banana Support Programme has made it possible for us (in St. James) to rehabilitate the Spring Mount, Industry and Horseguards roads, all of which stretch across three Council divisions known for their participation in Jamaica’s once thriving banana industry”, he said.
    “The rehabilitation of the Kensington Community Centre and the development of the Heritage Tourism attraction site, which is planned for the Flagstaff community, will also help to improve the standard of life experienced by residents living within the respective communities,” he added.
    Mayor Sinclair said that the EU has shown a commitment to assist ACP banana producing countries, and the effort could be regarded as a gesture of kindness that will not be forgotten.
    He expressed pleasure that the parish is benefiting under the programme, and said that he is sure that Mayors of the other participating parishes felt the same way.
    Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the implementing agency, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Al Powell, in his comments at the contract signing, said that the agency was committed to working with key stakeholders in the targeted communities.
    “RADA will work with its partners to facilitate the generation of successful development models for sustainable agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises, that can effectively replace the economies lost by the decline in banana production, even as we continue to support banana and plantain enterprises that are viable and competitive,” he explained.
    He said that EUBSP/RADA officers are committed to ensuring the successful completion of the programme, as well as support to the beneficiaries, long after EU funding has ceased.
    Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, said that the EUBSP reflected the EU’s commitment to assisting under-served communities. She said that this was the third such grant JSIF has received from the organization.
    The six parishes to benefit are; St James, Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Mary, Portland and St. Thomas.
    The two contracts were signed at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay, between the European Union (EU) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); and the European Union (EU) and the St. James Parish Council. They were valued at Euro 1,445,000 (J$159 million) and Euro 1,932,776 (J$212 million), respectively.
    JSIF and the St. James Parish Council will contribute 20% and 40% of the respective total cost.

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