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    Some 20 farmers, primarily in the Sevens River area of St. James, are to benefit from a GBP $30,000 (J$4 million) grant from the United Kingdom-based non-governmental group, Oxfam International, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President, Senator Norman Grant, has informed.
    Oxfam International was formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-governmental organisations that collaborate to, as best as possible, reduce poverty in targeted countries. The body’s name, Oxfam, evolved from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942, which campaigned for food supplies to be sent through allied naval blockades to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece, during World War II.
    Senator Grant was speaking last week at the launch of activities to observe April as Farmer’s Month, at the JAS headquarters, in downtown Kingston.
    The President informed that the Sevens River Branch of the JAS was integral in brokering the grant from Oxfam, which, he explained, would be used to build the beneficiaries capacity as well as identify ready markets for their produce. He explained that the 20 farmers were selected from a group of 100.
    Another undertaking, which Senator Grant said is to be embarked on shortly, is a regional initiative, involving several Caribbean islands supplying produce, primarily sweet potatoes, to overseas markets, particularly in Europe. This activity, he advised, is being undertaken through the Caribbean Farmers Association.
    “We will participate in what is called a regional marketing initiative, where St. Vincent and Trinidad have now identified markets for our (regional) potatoes. We will be required to supply some 60,000 lbs of potatoes per week. Jamaica’s contribution is about 10,000 to 20,000 lbs, and this is a project we intend to use as a pilot to demonstrate that we (JAS) can complement what the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is doing, as it relates to marketing,” the President said.
    Senator Grant also announced the establishment of a $45 million Foundation, which the JAS would “launch shortly.”
    A number of activities have been planned across the island to commemorate Farmers’ Month. The activities, which Mr. Grant said are being undertaken in tandem with the Ministry, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), include a number of agricultural shows, training seminars, awards banquets, and church services.
    The JAS President informed that Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen, has endorsed a number of the organisation’s projects, which have already commenced, and has pledged his support for others to come.
    The Governor-General has traditionally been the patron for events, such as the annual Denbigh Agricultural Show, which is staged in Clarendon in August, and has lent support to the Eat Jamaican Campaign, which was launched in 2003.
    “The Governor-General has recommitted to that effort (Eat Jamaican campaign). We have also requested him to be patron of the rural development campaign, which the JAS will launch shortly,” Senator Grant said.

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