Category Archives: News

Launch Of The 2015 Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show

JAS Denbigh Show 2015 Launch

Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier (second right) seems impressed with the size of the fingers of this relatively small bunch of the FHIA 17 banana variety which was on display during the launch of the 2015 Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at Hi-Pro Ace Supercentre in White Marl, St Catherine.

Also sharing in the occasion are (from left) Allan Rickards, chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association; Grethel Sessing, chairman of the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA); and Alfred Dunkley, marketing extension officer at the AIBGA.

Hurricane Season Plans

Hurricane Season

Hurricane Supplies

During and after a hurricane, you may need supplies to keep your family safe and healthy.

Remember that a hurricane could cut off your power and water supply.

You also may not be able to drive because of damage to your vehicle and or roads may be flooded or blocked.

That’s why it’s best to be prepared — stock up on everything you might need now.

Here’s a checklist of what you could need:

Food and Medicine

  • Clean containers for water
  • At least 5 gallons of water per person (which should be enough to last 3 to 5 days)
  • A 3 to 5 day supply of canned food
  • Baby food or formula
  • Prescription medicines

Safety Items

  • First aid kit and instructions
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries

Personal Care Products

  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Tampons and pads
  • Diapers

Make sure your supplies are stored together in a place that’s easy to reach and stay safe.

Future Plans during the Season

The AIBGA will send out new and applicable messages on a 2 weekly rotation.

Hurricane Activation Plan, if needed will come under separate cover.

Gov’t to Embark on $250 Million Banana Export Expansion Programme

The Government of Jamaica is pumping $250 million into a project aimed at revitalising banana production for the export market.

The Banana Export Expansion Programme (BEEP), details of which were provided at an investment forum in Montego Bay recently, is targeted at new and existing farmers in the traditional banana-growing parishes of Portland, St. Mary and St. James.

Funding is being provided under the European Union (EU)-supported Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAMS). The Banana Board is the implementing agency.

The $250 million investment by Government will go towards land divestment in priority agro parks, off farm irrigation infrastructure, and farm road improvement. Some $76.5 million will be distributed through JBAMs for material input supplies, Global Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP) infrastructure, and Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) certification.

Farmers will receive support from JBAMS in the areas of training, certification, and technology transfer in both production and post harvest management. They will be required to provide 60 per cent of their production cost, while the remaining 30 per cent will be provided through the BEEP.

Farmers in St. James will benefit under the initiative, through several agro parks that are to be set up at Seven Rivers and Sunderland in the parish.

The parks, the first of which will be established in Seven Rivers, will function as incubators to ensure the expansion of production within global standards, and the development of the industry, while preserving its competitiveness for both the domestic and export markets.

At the Montego Bay investment forum, held at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) offices, the farmers and potential investors were provided with details about the project, including the registration process, cost of production, and market opportunities.

“It is still a work in progress and our forum with you is not only to give you information but also to get back some information from you so that the programme, when we implement it, is the best programme,” said Banana Board General Manager, Janet Conie.

The major components of BEEP include: upgrading of the tissue culture laboratory; facilitating ongoing exports of a single small container of banana; providing financial support through a revolving loan for material inputs required for production of the first crop; providing Global GAP infrastructure for strategic grouping of farmers: storeroom toilet, welfare facility; and facilitating Global GAP and FLO Certifications to ensure market access and premium prices.

The programme will also seek to address disaster mitigation; prevent Moco and Black Sigatoka diseases; and improve access of farmers to the Catastrophe Fund.

A series of natural disasters in the recent past have severely curtailed Jamaica’s banana production and as a result, the banana export market.

Strong efforts to revitalise the export market, due to high international demand for Jamaican bananas, have resulted in new markets in Canada and Grand Cayman, and a scaled back resumption of exportation to the United Kingdom, which was suspended in 2008.

Banana farmers to benefit from $718-million EU project

MORE than 2,000 banana and plantain farmers and workers will benefit significantly from provisions under the European Union’s $718-million (¤4.73 million) Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAM) programme, to be implemented over the next four years.

The programme will provide assistance in the form of grants to enable the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) to undertake key activities aimed at enhancing crop production, and strengthening local markets.

Banana and Plantain Farmers to Benefit from EU Assistance

Over 1,400 banana and plantain farmers, and other sector interests, will benefit from a $660 million (€4.73 million) European Union (EU)-funded Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) special assistance programme, over the next four years.

The programme, which forms part of the Government’s poverty eradication strategy, targets small farmers and other beneficiaries totaling approximately 3,000, in the banana growing parishes of St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. James, Portland, and St. Mary, whose crops and, by extension,

EU Lauded for Support to Banana Industry

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has lauded the European Union (EU) for its continued support to the banana industry, which has again been demonstrated with the award of a four-year €1.9 million grant to the Banana Board.

This is in addition to the Government of Jamaica’s €2.5 million, which is being provided to give technical support to farmers over four years, to improve productivity and production. The support falls under the Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAMs).

Additionally, the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA) will receive just over €2 million under the JBMAs, to develop markets.

Addressing the Board’s 60th anniversary celebration function at the Jamaica Conference Centre , downtown Kingston, on October 29, the Minister explained that the major objective of the programme is to reduce the cost of production for farmers and agri-businesses.

“We sincerely acknowledge the support of the European Union for this initiative,” he said, noting that the Ministry will shortly sign the new four-year successor programme for the JBAMs, in the sum of €4.7 million.

He further informed that the Ministry has just completed implementation of the EU Banana Support Programme, which benefitted more than 30,000 banana and plantain farmers in traditional banana dependent communities in St. James, Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland.

“We constructed roads, bridges, weather stations, banana databases, provided institutional support to the AIBGA, as well as new technologies and extension services through the Banana Board and RADA,” the Minister outlined.

He said that with implementation of the new programme, greater focus will be placed on building and improving competitiveness of the banana and plantain industries.

“The Banana Accompanying Measures (BAMs) is a direct response to the various challenges which are presently experienced by the local banana sector,” Mr. Clarke noted.

The Minister asserted that with the funding and other support efforts, and subject to good weather, it is anticipated that banana production should move to 100,000 tonnes over three years.

Production is currently some 50,000 tonnes, which is mainly for local consumption. This is down from the 200,000 tonnes produced for export in 1996.

“Nonetheless, the banana sector continues to be a major contributor to Jamaica’s economic and social well-being, especially as it relates to the continued contribution it makes to the community and the banana producing parishes,” Mr. Clarke  noted.

Twenty-four persons were awarded for their contribution to the sector over the years, including three in the ‘Outstanding Youth in Banana Production’ category.

Meanwhile, seven companies and organisations were recognised for outstanding contribution to the industry.

Agri Ministry Moves To Cut Imports, Boost Local Production

WESTERN BUREAU:Contrary to a demand by the European Union (EU) for the reduction of customs duties on imported goods from that region, state minister in the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, Ian Hayles, is calling for an immediate cutback in the volume of produce imported into Jamaica.

“In the Ministry of Agriculture, we are doing everything in our powers to cut imports in this country. If we are going to survive any at all, we will have to,” Hayles said.

Alexander Walford, policy officer in charge of Caribbean-EU trade relations, suggested recently that Jamaica’s failure to honour an agreement signed in 2008 under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) could tarnish the country’s reputation.

But Hayles, who was giving the keynote address at the recent annual general meeting of the All-Island Banana Growers’ Association (AIBGA) at the Springfield All-Age School in St James, called on the farmers to adopt to new technology in order to fill the gap resulting from a reduction in Jamaica’s food import bill.

DUTIES NOT CUT

Under the pact, Jamaica and 14 other Caribbean countries had agreed to start the reduction of customs duties by January 2011, but only six Caribbean countries have so far complied.

“Whatever differences we have with Europe, we have always found a way to resolve them,” a more cautious Hayles said after his presentation. “It is more a policy decision, and that is one that must be made by the Cabinet.”

The EU representative said the agreement made provision for arbitration and the settling of disputes, and recourse through which those provisions may be sought if the situation remains the same.

Banana Growers Receive Vital Injection Of Funds

THE EUROPEAN Union’s recent grant of $20.7m will go towards revitalising the All-Island Banana Growers’ Association (AIBGA) which is the sole banana growers’ association, but which in recent years has been inactive.

The capital injection will reposition the association to, among other things, develop a structured marketing system to allow it to compete in promoting a range of value added products. The project is a precursor to the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) which is slated to get under way in 2013.

Grethel Sessing, president of the AIBGA, explained that this intervention will result in improved support services to farmers that will redound to the benefit of their families and communities.

“We expect that within the next two to three years, the AIBGA should see stronger and more coherent district branches, area councils and vibrant growers’ organisation better able to respond to their needs and improved material supply outlets,” she told the signing ceremony.

While the one-year project will be implemented by the AIBGA, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and European Union Banana Support Programme, with the Banana Board and other stakeholders, will provide support.

Sessing used the occasion to challenge Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke to use his office to lobby for a market for agricultural produce, in much the same way as the island’s tourism product is marketed internationally.

Issues to be addressed

Meanwhile, Clarke stressed the importance of the AIBGA reorganising its operations to mobilise its membership to effectively address issues such as those which led to last year’s importation of US$8.7 million worth of banana chips, more than doubling the US$3.4 million imported in 2010.

Making a case about the popularity of banana as the third-most preferred starch in the diet of most locals, after rice and flour, Clarke cited a recent survey which showed that 98 per cent of Jamaicans eat bananas regularly. While the industry employs in excess of 6,000 persons, production is still well below the desired level, the agriculture minister admitted.

Said he: “We are not yet where we want to be, with production marginally below 90,000 tonnes as at 2010, an increase of 17.5 per cent over 2009. I believe we could call this a fresh start.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com

CAPTION: Grethel Sessing (centre), president of the All-Island Banana Growers’ Association, discusses the implications of the 180,000 euro grant with members of her executive following yesterday’s signing ceremony at the Banana Board Building in Kingston. Sharing in the occasion (from left) are Talman Richards, director of the Portland region; Vice-Chair Morris Smith, St James Director Norvel Chambers and Richard Campbell, another Portland director.

Banana Farmers to Benefit from $718 Million Assistance Programme

More than 2,000 banana and plantain farmers and workers will benefit significantly from provisions under the European Union’s $718 million (€4.73 million) Jamaica Banana Accompanying Measures (JBAM) programme, to be implemented over the next four years.

The programme will provide assistance in the form of grants to enable the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the All Island Banana Growers Association (AIBGA), to undertake key activities aimed at enhancing crop production, and strengthening local markets.

Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei, formally launched the programme during a brief ceremony at the St. Mary Parish Church Hall, Port Maria, St. Mary, on May 14. Agreements for the programme were signed by representatives of the EU, the Ministry, and the AIBGA in November 2013.

Under the project, to be managed by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Banana Board will be responsible for administering technical services, which will include: crop testing and sampling, and enhancing development of the fruits’ quality, quantity, and resilience to diseases, through scientific inputs.

The AIBGA will have responsibility for ensuring the provision of plant material; inputs, such as fertilizers; and increasing market access.

In addition, the feasibility of resuming banana exports will also be considered, with focus on creating a niche market in the Caribbean.

These activities will primarily benefit stakeholders in the traditional banana-growing parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, St. Mary, Clarendon, and St. James.

This is a shift in the JBAM’s previous focus, dating back to its initial implementation in 1996, which was based on enhancing the banana sector’s competitiveness, mainly for export markets.

Exports, however, ceased in 2008 following the industry’s ravaging by several devastating factors, mainly hurricanes.

Focus subsequently shifted to developing local markets through enhanced extension services, introducing new fruit varieties, and pest management. Coupled with this was sector diversification, which entailed the provision of grants to enable affected farmers to engage in other income earning activities, such as beekeeping, alternative agricultural crop cultivation, and tourism development.

These were complemented by the provision of funding for infrastructure development, targeting schools and roads, among others.

In her address at the launch, Ambassador Amadei, noted the EU’s longstanding association with Jamaica’s banana sector, which has benefitted from grant assistance totaling over $4.3 billion over the last 18 years.

She pointed out that JBAM reflects the EU’s efforts to increase the impact of its development policies by supporting sustainable practices, prioritizing locally developed species, safeguarding ecosystems, and focusing on small farmers.

“Smallholders’ agriculture is the backbone of (the) rural area and key to sustaining the livelihood of thousands of people. However, smallholders often face enormous challenges, such as natural disasters, lack of access to credit, weak linkages to markets and praedial larceny.  In light of these challenges, and in times of financial constraint for all, the EU has decided to focus the support on smallholders,” the EU delegation Head stated.

Additionally, she stressed that prevailing economic challenges “make it even more critical to ensure that aid is spent effectively and delivers the best possible results.”

“Therefore, the EU targets its resources where they are needed most to address poverty reduction and where they could have (the) greatest impact,” she added.

In his message, read by Minister without Portfolio, Ministry of Transport, Works, and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, welcomed the JBAM programme.

“It will strengthen the resilience of the farmers against future shocks, such as hurricanes, and provide you with livelihood coping strategies and more sustainable production methods,” the Minister said.

Mr. Clarke also thanked the EU for their longstanding “unwavering” support of Jamaica’s banana industry.

The Minister said that following its ravaging by hurricane Sandy in 2012, the sector rebounded to yield 33,295 tonnes of fruit in 2013.

“This did not happen by chance, but by dint of hard work and your resilience, and the strategic commitment of all stakeholders in the industry. The Government is committed to ensuring that advancements are made as we continue to pursue the development of a modern, efficient, and internationally competitive sector that contributes to the development and well-being of our people,” he added.