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REDI for rural projects

Published:Wednesday | March 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

JSIF launches US$15-million schemeto help small tourism, agri projects

Arthur Hall,
Senior Staff Reporter

A multimillion-dollar programme being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) could give a well-needed boost to small farmers and tourism projects in rural Jamaica.

JSIF has received a loan of US$15 million (approximately J$1.3 billion) from the World Bank for a programme dubbed the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

The loan is to be repaid over 30 years with a five-year moratorium and at an annual interest rate of under one per cent.

Benefit for small projects

More than 22,000 people in rural communities are expectedto benefit over the life of the programme.

"REDI will provide grants of a maximum of US$50,000 to micro and small agricul-tural and rural tourism entrepre-neurs," Scarlette Gillings, executive director of JSIF, announced yesterday.

"This investment is to be used to im-prove produc-tivity, increase marketability and, in the long run, in-crease the market share of these businesses," Gillings added.

She noted that REDI would also provide grants to a maximum of US$200,000 for community-type infra-structure development and technical assistance to improve marketing and management.

The project was endorsed by Tourism Minister Ed-mund Bartlett and Agri-culture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who argued that REDI will make a major difference in rural communities.

"We see that this particular loan arrangement is going to provide us with the tools to deal with poverty alleviation and to fulfil the tourism mandate as the main source of poverty alleviation in Jamaica," Bartlett said before signing a memorandum of understanding with JSIF.

"This is going to do a lot to address rural poverty, and for that the project must be commended but, more importantly, it is going to generate economic activity and, hopefully, generate wealth," Tufton added at the signing ceremony at Jamaica House yesterday.

How to access REDI

Organise a group:
Become a legally registered Cooperative, Benevolent or Friendly Society.

Come with ideas:
Have a viable business idea in agriculture and/or rural tourism that supports income generation and employment creation.

Apply to JSIF:
This can be done by collecting an application form from a JSIF office or online. The Rural Agricultural Authority is also ready to provide registration assistance.