$1.5-m boost for St Elizabeth, Manchester farmers

Monday, March 12, 2018

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NAIN, St Elizabeth — Three hundred farmers from communities neighbouring the JISCO/ALPART operating areas were recently beneficiaries of an Agricultural Stimulus Programme.

With funding of $1.5 million made possible through the bauxite/alumina company and the Alpart Community Council, each farmer received a voucher valued at $5,000, redeemable at farm stores in the area, for agricultural supplies such as seeds, fertiliser, chemical, farming tools, baby chicks, feed, and medication.

Essex Valley Community and Associates (EVC), the business arm of the council, has been undertaking community initiatives with other partners since 2009 to provide support to alleviate the many challenges faced by farmers in southern St Elizabeth and southern Manchester.

“While agriculture continues to play a crucial role in the economic development of our communities, the sector has perennially been plagued by many challenges, including natural hazards and limited resources. However, farmers from this area have proven to be very resilient under the many trying circumstances. We… believe this progamme is extremely important as it provides well-needed support to our farmers to achieve self-sufficiency and to continue to feed their families and the nation,” said EVC operations manager Camilla Rochester.

She said that it was ensured that bonafide farmers were selected and that was done with the assistance of community representatives including councillors and members of parliament.

Zhang Jun, managing director of JISCO/ ALPART, said that his organisation is committed to support agriculture because success in that area means an improved standard of living for community members.

“As the garden grows, so does the gardener,” he said, emphasising his point with a Chinese proverb.

Representatives from the forty-five communities to which donations were made collected on behalf of the recipients from their areas.

Claudette Thomas, a resident of the Rose Hall, expressed gratitude for all communities.

“This Agricultural Stimulus Programme is exactly what [the] communities need at this time to enhance economic growth through self-reliance. As reps, we will be leading by example; we will ensure that we manage our investment in a way for it to be sustainable,” she said.

Rochester said that the EVC was started to cushion the effects of the suspension of the operations at Alpart, but today it is complementing the various community development initiatives being undertaken by the company, which is now reopened.

In addition to agriculture, she said education, sports, health and youth development projects are also supported.

Chairman of the Alpart Community Council Lenworth Blake told the audience at the handover ceremony at the Alpart Sports Club in Nain that it was the first major project being done by his organisation for 2018.




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