Farmers to benefit from $30-million passion fruit project
SCORES of farmers in Rock Hall, St Andrew, are the first group to benefit from the distribution of more than 10,000 passion fruit seedlings under a flood relief project.
The project, implemented by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and funded by the State of the African Diaspora (SOAD) and the Economic Community of the Sixth Region (ECO-6), is valued at $30 million.
In addition to the seedlings, farmers will receive technical support and organic fertilisers from Ashjo Distributors Limited.
Other farmers across the island will receive similar distributions over a one-year period.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony yesterday, deputy secretary general at ECO Hugh Johnson explained that the project will be beneficial, especially since the farmers were badly affected by the heavy rains which occurred in October last year.
“A part of the project is to help with land preparation, farming inputs, seeds, fertilisers, seedlings and marketing because when you bring your crops to fruition, there will be a need for marketing so that you can earn,” he said.
Johnson pointed out that the farmers have been receiving a monthly stimulus package of US$100, which started in October last year and is expected to continue for another three years.
He said the stimulus packages are aimed at improving the livelihood of farmers, their families and their communities.
“We have also established that you [farmers] will be your own processor, collectively. When I walk into a supermarket in Kingston, I should be able to pick up a Rock Hall passion fruit and all of that money will be coming back to you to develop your community because you will be earning more,” he said.
Meanwhile, manager of projects, marketing and training at JAS Janet Pullen expressed gratitude for the project, saying it will enhance the development of the local juice market.
“The aim of this project was deliberate. We have a very vibrant and robust juice industry in Jamaica. The project will not only benefit the financial aspect of the farmers but, on a health basis, the nation,” she said.
“That is why passion fruit came about; it has value in terms of selling it on the open market but we are going to ensure that we use this passion fruit to enhance the robust juice industry.” Pullen added.
Johnson said phase two of the project will see the distribution of the same quantities of ginger soon.
– Brittny Hutchinson
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