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The Government of Jamaica and the World Bank have signed a US$15 million (J$1.34 billion) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), for the establishment of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project in the rural communities.
The agreement was also signed by the World Bank, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Ministry of Tourism, the Tourism Product and Development Company (TPDCo), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) during the signing ceremony at Jamaica House, Kingston.
The REDI project will be implemented by JSIF over six years and will support the execution of sub-projects in agriculture and tourism.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (centre), preparing to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the establishment of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project. Looking on is Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton (right) and World Bank Special Representative, Badrul Haque (left). The signing was at Jamaica House Tuesday (March 2).

Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, said the objective of the project is to improve market access for small-scale/micro rural agricultural producers and tourism product providers.
She stated that REDI, she said, will provide grants of a maximum of US$50, 000 (JA$4.5 million) to micro and small agricultural and rural tourism entrepreneurs.
“This investment is to be used to improve productivity, increase marketability and, in the long run, increase the market share of these businesses,” she informed.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (second right), signing the US$15 million (J$1.34 billion) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the establishment of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project. Looking on is Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), World Bank Special Representative, Badrul Haque (second left) and Managing Director of Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Scarlette Gillings. The signing was at Jamaica House on Tuesday (March 2).

Mrs. Gillings also said small business management training and technical assistance will also be provided to all beneficiaries. The resulting impact of developing these small businesses would include an increase in employment numbers and greater economic activity in rural communities.
REDI will also provide grants of, as much as, US$200, 000 (J$17.8 million) for wider community type infrastructure development, technical assistance to improve marketing and management.
World Bank Special Representative, Badrul Haque, said the project is expected to directly and indirectly benefit an estimated 22,000 rural residents, and will encourage the inclusion of women and youth in particular.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said REDI will help to take tourism into the deep rural areas and assist the Ministry to drive “green tourism”.
He said that to explore eco-tourism and provide for the visitor a wider experience of agro-tourism in its broadest form, agro-tourism will entail tours of farmstead with small farmers, not showing the crops but showing the tourists how they actually cultivate these crops.
He further said the loan arrangement will provide the country with the tools to deal with poverty alleviation and fulfill tourism’s mandate, as a main source of poverty mitigation in Jamaica.
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, also said the project will not only address rural poverty, but will generate economic activity and, hopefully, some wealth.
Through REDI, capacity building and technical assistance will be provided to the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries and Tourism, RADA, TPDCo, other state agencies and NGOs to assist in their effective delivery of services to the agriculture and tourism sectors.
An inter-ministerial team, which includes the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), as well as the key Ministries and agencies will monitor the implementation of the project, to ensure that it remains responsive to the sector’s needs, resources are placed where needed and the necessary policy decisions needed for sustainability are taken.