Jamaica, ILO sign agriculture, fisheries agreement

Jamaica, ILO sign agriculture, fisheries agreement

New project to support training, entrepreneurial coaching for micro and small operators

Monday, February 15, 2021

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PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — Jamaica's Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have launched a landmark partnership to help informal operators in the agriculture and fisheries sectors transition to formal standards of labour.

Jamaica's Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw, signatory to the ILO grant agreement, attended the virtual event recently. Other high-level participants included Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green; Minister of State in the MIIC, Dr Norman Dunn; and Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Valerie Vieira.

Chief Technical Director at the MIIC, Michelle Parkins moderated the event.

“It is estimated that approximately 43 per cent of the Jamaican economy operates informally. The challenge of addressing informality is more severe for workers in the agricultural sector and especially for those in the fisheries subsector, said Minister Shaw. “This project will ensure that our farmers and fisherfolk are given the assistance, training and guidance that are required to take them along the path to formality. We want them to understand that agriculture is a business and should be treated as such.”

“The project will see 100 farmers and fisherfolk, who are registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority or the National Fisheries Authority, formalise their operations,” said Minister Green. “We know their reality – they operate in this informal space and as such, they are unable to access the keys they need to unlock their true potential to truly modernise and grow our agricultural and fisheries sectors. They are unable to get financing, they are unable to access pension and investment facilities. We want to unlock that potential.”

According to Vieira, “Implementation of the project will be led by the JBDC, an agency within the MIIC. My team is excited and ready to deliver. We have placed this project into a programme that we have labelled 'Beyond Crops and Catch', specifically to say we are about sustainability. We are looking at sustainability in terms of pension, health and investment, because we really want to move that narrative and that mental fix away from saying that farming is not a business, so we are really looking at a fulsome engagement with participants.”

The grant agreement supports one of several components that have been agreed on with national partners within the multidimensional development cooperation programme approved by the ILO in 2020.

The 15-month ILO programme has as its overall aim to improve the efficiency and capacity of workers in three target industries – household services, agriculture and fisheries – through various interventions. The ultimate goal is to provide tangible support for people in these sectors, which will allow them to transform their livelihoods from subsistence activities to economically sustainable employment.

“The Jamaica Formalisation Project will receive ILO financial and technical support to strengthen policies for income security, social protection and other incentives for formalisation,” said Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean Dennis Zula, during the virtual signing ceremony to initiate the collaboration. “It will also feature public awareness and sensitisation campaigns to clarify the understanding of the advantages and procedures for businesses and workers to make the shift to the formal economy.”

In addition to ILO support for agricultural enterprise development, the other components will include development of a training curriculum for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and certification linked to fishers' occupations and needs.

The ILO is already advancing discussions with Jamaica Household Workers' Union/Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions and Jamaica Employers Federation for relevant agreements to provide technical and financial support within the framework of the project. Support will also be provided for interventions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; and capacity building for social dialogue among national tripartite constituents so that they can effectively review and revise relevant legislation for wages and benefits to workers in the target sectors.

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