Thousands of farmers to receive US$ support in 2019

Monday, December 03, 2018

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JAMAICA'S agriculture and rural tourism sectors are expected to get a boost from a US$60-million injection under phase two of the World Bank-funded Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) in 2019.

The project is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization Investment Centre Division and is geared towards enhancing agricultural productivity, agro-processing and rural tourism.

Phase one of REDI changed the lives of over 5,000 Jamaicans and created direct employment for over 1,400. It also contributed to the recorded growth in Jamaica's agricultural output in 2016 and lowering the country's food import bill by US$6 million.

REDI2, as the second phase is being called, is expected to strengthen linkages between Jamaica's agriculture and tourism sectors by enhancing market access and climate resilience of micro, small and medium-sized agriculture and community tourism enterprises. Rural producers and service providers will gain increased access to climate-smart technologies to improve their productivity and receive improvements to basic infrastructure and agro-logistics for enhanced market access, incorporating critical climate-resilient infrastructure to promote sustainability.

In addition to this project, FAO's Investment Centre Division is supporting the development of an irrigation project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) following the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project prepared in 2016. Under the Essex Valley project, the lives of over 700 farmers stand to be improved through an introduction to modern irrigation techniques, post-harvest facilities and compliance with food safety standards on approximately 1,700 acres of land.

The second project will target an additional 1, 500 acres of land in the parishes of St Catherine and Clarendon.

Roble Sabrie, economist at FAO noted that “FAO's support has been critical in the project design and economic evaluation of the prospected benefits that will be generated by both new projects that will help in addressing policy issues and form an integral part of the Government's efforts to support smallholders and modernise the sector.”

The CDB project will enhance the productivity of farmers in areas formerly used as banana and sugar plantations. Implementation of the projects will be guided by a feasibility study that will establish the area needs, the boundaries of the intervention and other technical aspects including an irrigation system, drainage intervention and associated production and marketing systems.

“The two projects, totalling US$60 million, could also have interesting interlinkages and cross-support each other due to FAO support during implementation” Sabrie added.

The FAO said it expects that once these projects get off the ground, the agriculture and rural sectors will expand and will foster the potential for increasing trade and investment in Jamaican agriculture.

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