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    The St. Thomas Infirmary is now self-sufficient in chicken meat, as the protein source is produced on the premises in Morant Bay.
    Financing of the project, valued at some US$10,400, was provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the St. Thomas Parish Council. It was established through the collaborative effort of the Department of Local Government, the Board of Supervision and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
    Minister of State in the Department of Local Government, Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Montague; Mayor of Morant Bay, Hanif Brown; FAO’s Representative, Dr. Dunstan Campbell and Matron of the St. Thomas Infirmary, Avis Harding-Davis, took part in the official opening ceremony, on Thursday (March 26), at the Infirmary.
    Giving an overview of the project, Mayor Brown said its main objective is to assist the institution in coping with the rising cost of food and to supplement the diet of inmates.
    The money from the FAO was used to expand an existing poultry house into a 400-bird capacity unit, and to construct a new 100-bird capacity layer unit and a fully-equipped slaughter unit. A storage room was also upgraded to secure feed and supplies. New equipment, such as a water tank, feeders, sink, stove, refrigerators and a slaughtering course were also installed.

    Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague (right), observes as chickens are being caught at a facility that he officially opened at the St. Thomas Infirmary on March 26. The chicken project was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, in collaboration with the St. Thomas Parish Council and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

    Mayor Brown said the Council provided funds to offset labour cost and minor materials. “A total of 563 birds have been slaughtered, to date, with an average weight of five pounds per bird, the bulk of which were used in the residents’ diet,” he said.
    The Mayor said that the Council, in collaboration with RADA, is planning to set up a fruit and garden plot at the infirmary.
    In his address, Mr. Montague thanked the sponsors for their “invaluable contribution.”
    “The fact that the global financial crisis is also affecting donor countries and entities, as reflected in budgetary pressures, it makes donations such as this even more significant and appreciated,” he said.
    The State Minister also congratulated the Parish Council for its contribution and interest in monitoring the progress and operation of the project.
    “This is a good example of local authorities stepping up to the plate and becoming more hands-on in the management and development of their constituency. The success of local government reform depends on the Councils’ willingness to take on this responsibility,” Mr. Montague said.

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