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Story Highlights

  • Two agricultural projects, valued at a total cost of $125 million, were officially launched in St. Mary on July 21, will provide support for displaced banana farmers and revitalise the cocoa industry.
  • The initiatives: Project CARE - Catapulting Agriculture into Rural Enterprise, and the Cocoa Sector Revitalisation Project, are funded by the European Union (EU) Banana Support Programme.
  • Speaking at the launch, held at the St. Mary Banana Estates in Annotto Bay, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, lauded the EU for its contribution to the country's agricultural sector.

Two agricultural projects, valued at a total cost of $125 million, were officially launched in St. Mary on July 21, will provide support for displaced banana farmers and revitalise the cocoa industry.

The initiatives: Project CARE – Catapulting Agriculture into Rural Enterprise, and the Cocoa Sector Revitalisation Project, are funded by the European Union (EU) Banana Support Programme.

Speaking at the launch, held at the St. Mary Banana Estates in Annotto Bay, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, lauded the EU for its contribution to the country’s agricultural sector.

He said that the projects would go a far way in putting the farmers back to work, create employment opportunities in the targeted parishes, and put unused lands into production.

He noted that the assistance to the cocoa industry would help to resuscitate the sector, which has been under-producing despite having a guaranteed market for 1,500 tons annually.

In her remarks, Charge d’Affaires at the EU, Helen Jenkins said the organisation is the largest donor of grant funds in Jamaica and has ongoing programmes that total approximately $21 billion.

“These are grants, not loans,” she stated.

She noted that the projects are towards supporting the Government of Jamaica’s poverty reduction and development policies, as articulated in the Vision 2030 National Development Plan.

Project CARE is a joint venture between the Jamaica Producers Group and the Forest Conservancy, and is aimed at organising and supporting the development of approximately 400 acres of unused agricultural lands in St. Mary.

The project seeks to support the establishment of new, growth-oriented agro-enterprises to foster sustainable development, employment, and land use in the traditional banana-growing communities in the parish.

Under Project CARE, 30 medium-sized farmer-entrepreneurs have been allocated more than 160 acres of land since January, on which diversification from banana production towards the cultivation of cassava and other cash crops, will take place.

The Cocoa Sector Revitalisation Project is a joint venture between the European Union (EU), the Cocoa Industry Board (CIB), HEART Trust/NTA and the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

It aims to re-energise the cocoa industry island wide, making it a more profitable and sustainable means of livelihood for farmers, and enable the CIB to attract private sector investment.

This project, which will run for 24 months, will target the small cocoa farmers in the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary, as well as other stakeholders in the industry.

It will also address critical issues such as low production yields, inefficient fermentary processing, and training of farmers, among others.

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