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During the 2005/06 fiscal year, a number of rural communities received significant benefits under the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP), which has to date, disbursed approximately $230 million for projects in mining communities.
As contained in the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) report for the period, the projects implemented included the Essex Valley Agricultural Project, the Ewarton and Comfort/Webbers Sweet Potato Project, the Walkerswood Agricultural Support Project, and the Mocho Goat Development Project.
The Essex Valley Project implemented in St. Elizabeth by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) saw 294 farmers from 21 communities planting approximately 54.3 hectares of crops such as cucumber, watermelon, tomato, peanut, cauliflower, scallion, broccoli, carrot, pepper and other vegetables. These activities netted some $6.6 million for the farmers, the report said.
Meanwhile, in the Comfort/Webbers area of Manchester, RADA managed the cultivation of 8.14 hectares of cassava by 39 farmers and some 6.56 hectares of sweet potato by 18 farmers. In St. Catherine, 58 farmers were involved in the cultivation of 11 hectares of cassava.
The final distribution of goat stock under the Mocho Project took place in December, 2005. The project, which began in 2001, involved the establishment of a major goat-rearing facility in Mocho, Clarendon under the management of the International Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). The project involved the organization of small farmers in Mocho into a cohesive group; the upgrading of the goat stock with full-bred and graded Nubian and Alpine species; on-site farm management; and training of farmers in animal husbandry.
According to the report, the Walkerswood Agricultural Support Project, which was launched in 2002, increased the earning capacity of farmers through the use of drip irrigation systems and under a guaranteed marketing arrangement. The project, which ended in December 2004, was aimed at increasing the productivity of reclaimed/restored bauxite lands in the vicinity of Windalco’s operations in St. Ann. This was done in partnership with the JBI, Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, and Windalco, under the management of IICA. Some 93 farmers planted approximately 58 hectares of scotch bonnet and West Indian red pepper on land mined-out by Windalco, as well as land operated by the Walkerswood Cooperative at Bromley, St. Ann.
In addition, the Kaiser Water Valley Skills Training Project, which was launched in March, 2005 saw the first batch of 20 trainees graduating in November of last year, having completed the HEART Trust/NTA NVQ-J Level One certificate course. A second batch of 15 trainees began training in October.
Highlighting the programme’s contribution to educational facilities and other community infrastructure, the report said “the development and maintenance of educational and community facilities and amenities was a significant investment in the general well-being of persons in the bauxite communities”.
Requests were received for funds for the repair and upgrading of more than 25 schools, and training and community centres, and in response, the programme funded the repairs and upgrading of 15 schools and five community centres in all five bauxite parishes.
In addition, the Byndloss Postal Agency in St. Catherine, the Rio Hoe Postal Agency in St. Ann, and the Kendall and Harmons post offices in Manchester, were constructed in collaboration with the Post and Telecommunications Department.
“It is estimated that over 40,000 persons spread across more than 100 communities have directly benefited from BCDP projects since the programme’s inception, either through agricultural or skills training projects. In addition, thousands more have benefited from numerous road, electricity and water extension projects, and from the refurbishment of sanitary facilities and classrooms in some schools,” the document said.
Meanwhile, Parliament has approved some $261 million to implement the fifth phase of the BCDP. The first tranche of $25 million will provided for works from March 2006 to 2009.
The focus of the programme for the fifth phase is on sustainable projects, particularly in the areas of occupational skills training; sustainable agriculture; and agro-business and small business development.