By Latonya Linton
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Government of Jamaica has approved the US$25-million Modernisation of the Agriculture Sector Programme (MASP) to be included in the Public Sector Investment Programme.
The initiative is a five-year project that will be executed by the mnistry of agriculture and fisheries and financed by a US$25 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Speaking at a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing November 25, portfolio minister, Floyd Green, said the objective of the MASP is to increase agricultural productivity and income for beneficiary smallholder farmers.
“We are going to be focusing a lot on agricultural health and food safety and how we can strengthen and develop local and export market linkages,” Green said. He informed that the programme is structured around two components – component one will focus on agricultural health and food safety and component two will focus on Public Agricultural Infrastructure and Services for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).
“We are looking to our modernisation programme to establish an effective funding mechanism aimed at supporting agricultural value chains and, in particular, the inclusion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the overall production and commercial supply chains,” Green said.
“We are going to be working in partnership with established anchor firms, with the ultimate goal to improve the income of small farmers and improve information in relation to market access, improve productivity, storage, and improve commercial capacities,” he added.
The minister said this will be under a framework of Public-Private Partnership with the government of Jamaica providing non-reimbursable funding under a cost-sharing arrangement between the Modernisation of the Agricultural Sector Programme and the beneficiary SMEs and anchor firms, through counterpart funding.
The expected outputs are that at the end of five years the Plant Pest Surveillance Unit will be strengthened; Plant Protection Unit (PPU) of Research and Development Division equipped and staff trained; Plant Health Information System developed and operating, and the Kingston and Montego Bay export complexes expanded and renovated.
“We are going to be doing crop surveys and we are going to be training our farmers in pesticide safety and how they can use information and communications technology (ICT) in dispensing their pesticides,” Green said. “We are also going to be strengthening our veterinary service division, we are going to work on equipping our veterinary diagnostic lab and our residue lab. We are going to strengthen our offices in Manchester, Clarendon, St Elizabeth and Falmouth and we are also going to be training our livestock farmers, as we want to ensure that they are Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified,” he added.
Minister Green said one of the main takeaways from the programme is the development of Agro-parks’ master plan and national PPP strategy for the agricultural sector. A detailed monitoring and impact evaluation plan and an environmental and social analysis will be prepared by the respective focal points at the IDB.