Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, says that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is providing assistance to the Government on the national school-feeding programme.
“Recently, Minister without Portfolio, JC Hutchinson and I met with the new FAO representative in Jamaica, who is the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Brazil, which is a country that is highly reputable in agriculture and agricultural productivity.
“He is now here to work with us on our modern school-feeding programme and a national fruit-tree-planting initiative, which will include orchards,” he said.
Mr. Shaw informed that the FAO will also be providing US$500,000 to aid with the research, development and execution of the programme.
He was addressing the ceremony to break ground for the new Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Hanover Parish Office in Lucea on Wednesday (January 29).
Minister Hutchinson, for his part, said that the school-feeding programme will commence in St. Elizabeth in April and in Hanover in September.
“[The programme] is one which we are going to ask the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), RADA and the Social Development Commission (SDC) to come together so they can [aid] in providing produce for schools,” he said. Meanwhile, Minister Shaw emphasised the need for farmers to produce on a larger scale, as the demand for Jamaican products, particularly in the diaspora, is high.
“There is no shortage of markets all over the world. Locally, we have the domestic market and we have to target our hotels. The diaspora – Jamaicans in England, the United States and Canada – they want Jamaican products and cannot get them,” he said, noting that the school-feeding programme will provide a ready market for farmers.The new RADA Parish Office, built at a cost of $109 million, is intended to provide staff with a facility from which they can better serve the more than 7,400 farmers in the parish.
The one-storey building replaces the old structure, which was demolished in 2017. Since then, the parish office had been operating from a temporary site on the outskirts of Lucea.