Bounty Hall residentsto benefit from Food For The Poor initiative
Residents living in the farming community of Bounty Hall in Trelawny and its environs are anticipating fresh opportunities to change their lives after the launch of an agricultural initiative from Food For The Poor Jamaica (FFPJ) in collaboration with the Bounty Hall New Testament Church of God, recently.
"As one of the oldest church groups in this region, we were always aware of the negative impact the closure of Hampden Estate, which was the source of employment for many of the residents in the area, and with no one else to turn to, the demand on the church increased," Reverend Dr Sonia Seivwright said.
"We had to find a way to fill the gap, but while we have affected lives with the programmes we have in place, we were not satisfied that we were penetrating the entire area because of our limited resources, so we approached Food For The Poor Jamaica, and they willingly came on board," she added.
The partnership was cemented in December 2013 with a community meeting involving members of the agriculture and fishing team from FFPJ. Since then, the international charity organisation has pumped more than $2 million into the establishment of an animal husbandry, including the purchase of materials to effect repairs to an abandoned piggery on the project property.
From the 15 gilts and approximately 280 bags of feed supplied, the project now owns almost 80 piglets at various stages of maturity. According to project coordinator, Mark Titus, piglets will be distributed in phases to residents who indicate an interest in establishing a pig-rearing business.
"It is all about the church taking the lead in empowering the young minds and empowering the community," Titus said. "We must seek to help those who cannot help themselves, but a key requirement is that each beneficiary must give back to the husbandry to create a revolving system as we strive for sustainability.
"Community projects like these can be complicated, but we are quietly confident that the management team (representative of several interest groups) we have in place for monitoring and evaluation purposes will ensure sustainability and total transparency," he added.
Titus also paid tribute to support received from Tank-Weld Metals; businessman Davon Crump, CEO of Global Outsourcing Solutions Ltd; and Everglades Farms, who, since taking ownership of Hampden Estate, has been supporting several projects throughout the communities in the vicinity of their operation.
Selena Ledgister-Kellier, agriculture and fishing manager at FFPJ, says her organisation is committed to leading the fight to alleviate poverty.
"At Food For The Poor, we are focused on changing lives, especially the poor in our communities, and this project is a testimony of what can be achieved if communities come together for a common purpose," Ledgister-Kellier said.
Individuals have also benefited from the distribution of 100 broilers chicks, 20 bags of feed, and support equipment, and are now seeking to increase their production as demand for their produce increases. Egg production, bee rearing and the planting of several cash crops are being introduced in phases.
"I am grateful for the assistance I have received from Food For The Poor," said an elated Taneika Fisher, after being surprised with a gift of a brand new deep freezer. "The chickens and other items I have received have helped me establish a business, and this freezer will solve the problem of storage. I really appreciate it."