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June 16, 2014
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Farmers benefit from ministry, JSIF initiative

More than 400 farmers from Manchester, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Andrew, St Mary, and St Thomas are beneficiaries under a project coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) to build capacity in farm management.

Under the Caribbean Development Bank-funded Community Investment Project, JSIF provided J$6.9 million Agro, Business Technical Assistance training which is expected to improve the way farmers plan and produce for the market.

Training was executed by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in the areas of the Food Safety Modernisation Act, Good Agricultural Practices and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) between January and April 2014.

Additionally, the farmers were exposed to personal hygiene and food safety; sprayer calibration, safe use of pesticides and disaster management; marketing and agricultural business management, crop diversification training and linkages to micro financing.

Farmers came from the rural communities of Bottom Bonnett and China Street in St Catherine; Mount Vernon and Bonny Gate in St Mary; Hayfield and Richmond Gap in St Thomas ; Brandon Hill in St Andrew; Top Quarter in Clarendon; and Green Bottom, Bottom Coleyville, Long Coffee and Contrivance in Manchester.

Rhonda Lumsden-Lue, general manager, JSIF said at one of the graduations for the farmers, "In these communities, most conduct small-scale business and are willing to expand the scope of their business, but they lacked the capacity and financial support to do so".

She noted that while Jamaica has the urgent aim to substitute high-value imports with local production, especially in the food bill, in order to execute this on a sustainable basis, shortcomings in the area of management training and finance among our farmers would have to be addressed.

Participants were also exposed to sessions with the PC Bank and Jamaica National Building Society which has a microfinance programme.

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