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Banana farmers certified in new fields

Published:Wednesday | January 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Banana farmers certified in new fields

In mid-January, 227 farmers received certificates of participation for their involvement in the Banana Sector Rehabilitation Project (BSRP) which ended in December 2009.

The HEART Trust/NTA BSRP was aimed at retraining displaced workers and farmers in the banana/plantain industry following the cessation of preferential treatment in the European market.

It was implemented in the six traditional banana-growing parishes: St James, St Catherine, St Thomas, St Mary, Portland and Clarendon.

The 15-month project, which began in October 2008 and implemented at a cost of €354,700 was funded by the European Union and HEART Trust/NTA.

The BSRP included continuous training needs analysis, career counselling workshops, pre-vocational, vocational skills and computer-based training.

The aim, according to HEART, was to teach participants modern skills for transition to new areas of employment or skills to improve banana productivity.

"The ultimate goal of the BSRP is to ease participants' uncertainty about their future and give them sustainable skill sets," the institute said in a release last year.

Largest participation levels

According to project marketing officer, Donnette Smith, the largest participation levels were in career counselling workshops that marked the start of the project.

Later beneficiaries faced obstacles such as transportation and financial issues, but she said solutions were found and beneficiaries came out for training.

In St Catherine, 12 persons were trained via Institutional Based Training (IBT) at Above Rocks Vocational Training Centre in Guys Hill. In St Thomas, 34 persons learned pre-vocational training through the use of information and communication technologies-enabled methods provided by HEADSpace Jamaica software.

In St Mary, 24 persons learned pre-vocational training using HEADSpace Jamaica software. In St James, 64 persons were trained via the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) in the parish while 29 persons were in IBT programmes at Granville Vocational Training Centre (VTC).

In Portland, 17 persons were taught pre-vocational training via JFLL and 15 persons were awarded for participation in the TPDCo Team Jamaica Training.

In Clarendon, 15 persons participated in the JFLL/Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education group while 14 persons were part of the regular JFLL classes.

Small-scale pilot

Three persons were enrolled in crop production at Ebony Park. An additional 10 persons took up the offer of direct entry to Port Maria VTC and Portmore HEART Academy to do customer service, housekeeping, general construction and electrical installation.

HEART said the project was a small-scale pilot.

"It will not provide jobs directly for people and will not be used to influence changes to the banana/plantain sector, but its findings and outcomes will help inform and develop a larger-scale programme of assistance to workers in Jamaica's banana/plantain communities. What they learn and the experiences of participants in this project will also help inform the design of training and certification programmes to be implemented by HEART Trust/NTA (and/or other institutions) in the future," it was stated last year.


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