Jamaica aumenta la inversión para el programa de aumento de la competitividad agrícola
Just over $300 million is budgeted to be spent this year on the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Agricultural Competitiveness Programme. The project aims to increase competitiveness in the agriculture sector by facilitating small and medium farmers’ access to markets; ensuring the production of safe and high quality food and products; and stimulating public-private investment in agribusiness value chain development.
Formerly known as the Rural Competitiveness Programme, the project is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the amount of $312 million, with the Government of Jamaica providing a further $1.7 million. This sum is contained in the 2014/15 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.
The project has three components: implementation of a system to support market development; implementation of quality management systems; and promotion of private investments in competitive and sustainable enterprises.
Among the programme’s targets for the 2014/15 financial year are: procurement of laboratory equipment for the Veterinary Services Division (VSD) and food safety laboratories; refurbishing of the Research and Development Plant Health laboratory at Bodles,St. Catherine; construction of a canine holding area at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew, and a contraband room in Montego Bay, St. James; refurbishment of quarantine facilities, and two parish offices; and procurement of computers and software for an animal health laboratory network to be established.
The project will also engage consultants to establish a food safety laboratory network; review the food borne illness surveillance and emergency response system; and facilitate preparation of a proposal for a modernized food inspection and registration system.
Other targets for the year include: installation of irrigation infrastructure at the Spring Plain/Ebony Park Agro Park; establishment of packaging facilities at New Forrest/Duff House, and Yallahs; and construction of drainage infrastructure at the Spring Plain/Ebony Park and New Forrest/Duff House Agro Parks.
The project is also expected to facilitate further research on Jamaican exporting practices and constraints for non-traditional products in the main export markets of the European Union (EU), Canada, and the United States of America; training for 50 members from 25 producer organizations in group dynamics, and Farmer Field Schools (FFS) training in product and post-harvest technologies.
In effect since November 2010, the project has, to date, recorded several achievements. These include: drafting of a Cabinet-approved Food Safety Policy, for which a National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Committee is currently developing an implementation plan; procurement of 30 laptop computers for staff of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); procurement of post-harvest kits for 13 marketing/extension officers; training of Ministry of Health personnel in meat and poultry inspection overseas, as well as in Environmental Performance Index procedures; acquisition of computers for the Quarantine Services and Veterinary Services Divisions; as well as facilitating 10 stakeholder workshops to review an Animal Health Policy proposal.