JIS News

While some Jamaicans are sitting idly by complaining about the lack of employment opportunities, one group in the farming community of Trinityville in St. Thomas has become a trendsetter in the use of locally grown produce to achieve self-sufficiency.
From its local community centre, the agro-processing group utilizes breadfruit, plantain, passion fruit and pumpkin to manufacture tasty, high quality wines. Nola Williams, programme coordinator at the centre, says that the wine making project came about as a means of getting-value added from produce grown in the area. “In agro-processing, you find that you stop at nothing and whatever you eat in terms of food, you can get wine from it.. if you are going to take a glass of wine, why not take it from something that is home grown,” she points out.
She tells JIS News that currently, the wines are produced on a small scale, as capacity at the centre is limited. “We have started marketing on a small scale, but because of the limitation for production, we can’t go out there whole scale and take in orders for awhile. What we produce we market and it goes,” she points out, noting that the wines are in high demand for weddings and other such occasions.
The group has plans to expand production and were fortunate to recently receive a $4 million grant from the Japanese Government through the Japanese Development Assistance Programme to assist in the effort.
The money will also go towards efforts to introduce Blue Mountain wine, utilising Jamaican’s world famous coffee. “When we see this on the market we should feel a little closer home. If you are abroad and see this, you should feel even more Jamaican then, because this is really of us,” Miss Williams points out.
Noting that coffee will also be used to make candy, she says, “that is one of our main focus, to move into wine chiefly and also to have additional products coming out of indigenous material. But coffee right now is our main challenge in the form of coffee candy and whatever we can get from the coffee,” she says.
Miss Williams tells JIS News that the agro-processing project has helped a lot of young people in the community to become self-sufficient. “The goal is to help our young people to be more self reliant, to help our young people to become entrepreneurs, to develop cottage industries and at the end of the day, we will be looking at a more marketable workforce,” she informs.
Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell in endorsing the community-led initiative says, “I was impressed and inspired by the leadership and by the steadfast approach in recognizing that it is through community effort and self-help efforts that jobs will be created and our economy will grow,” he states.
“In every country in this world, it is the micro sectors that drive production, it is not large businesses. It is people like you with an entrepreneurial flair and determination”, he notes further.

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