Over US$60 million will be injected into Jamaica’s agriculture and rural tourism sectors come 2019. Farmers and rural producers are among those to benefit from the funds, geared towards enhancing agricultural productivity, agro-processing, and rural tourism.
Following the successes of the World Bank funded Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), Phase Two of the project is set to begin in 2019, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Investment Centre Division. REDI changed the lives of over 5,000 Jamaicans and created direct employment for over 1,400 persons. It also contributed to the recorded growth in Jamaica’s agricultural output in 2016 lowering the country’s food import bill by US$6 million.
REDI2, as the second phase is being called, will 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 also 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 will 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 modernize 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, totaling US$60 million, could also have interesting inter-linkages and cross-support each other due to FAO support during implementation” Sabrie added. It is expected that once these projects are fully on board, the agriculture and rural sectors will expand and the foster the potential for increasing trade and investment in Jamaican agriculture.