Red Stripe’s cassava project gets boost from IDB

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a non-reimbursable technical cooperation agreement with Desnoes and Geddes Foundation during the 2016 FOROMIC (Forum on Microenterprise), held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Monday.


The funding will go towards a project to improve the livelihood of small and medium-scale cassava farmers, while developing a climate-smart agricultural system, and generate sustainable employment opportunities for vulnerable youth in Jamaica.


The contribution of the bank, with funds from the multilateral investment fund, is US$814,417.


Meanwhile, the Desnoes and Geddes Foundation will provide counterpart resources of US$4,012,814.


Red Stripe’s Managing Director and CEO, Ricardo Nuncio, predicts that in four years’ time his company will be able to employ nearly 500 cassava farmers across the country.


"...So it will allow us actually to employ close to 500 direct farmers across our lands, but actually have an impact of close to 3,000 employments when you put the indirect beneficiaries. So we are excited about the project and the support," Nuncio revealed during Monday’s agreement signing.


"Mr President (Luis Moreno of IDB), thank you for the support. This is a dream that has become a reality. The company, Red Stripe, is owned by Heineken, and Heineken worldwide really believes in promoting local raw materials as a complement [to] really promote employment in the primary sector."


He commended the project as it will allow the company to substitute imported raw material with locally grown cassava.


"Cassava is a crop that exists in Jamaica from a long time ago, but without an economic viability to make it an economically viable crop. So we are very excited to be a part of this shift and to offer the primary sector an opportunity to blossom in Jamaica," Nuncio declared.


This project is part of Project Grow, an endeavour by Red Stripe, one of the largest breweries in Jamaica, to drive innovation in agro processing and to translate this into an opportunity for both social and commercial value creation throughout the local cassava supply chain. The project will be carried out by the Desnoes & Geddes Foundation, Red Stripe’s corporate foundation, with contributions from international and local technical experts from the Centre for International Tropical Agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.


According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, global cassava production is likely to accelerate over the current decade.


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