Noranda helps to boost farming in Discovery Bay
DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann:
CALECIA JOHNSON from Farm Town in Discovery Bay is one of several persons who are taking advantage of an economic assistance project started by Noranda Jamaica bauxite company and its community council in January.
In keeping with its mandate to "seek to facilitate or create projects that will generate income and employment independent of the company", the council introduced a programme to start up 44 economic assistance projects in its 11 representative districts this year.
Calecia, with encouragement from her council representatives Keneen Hunt and Althea Scott, applied for a grant from Noranda to start a backyard chicken-rearing project. She started on February 16 with 50 chickens and three bags of feed provided by the company, and has already rolled over her first batch into a second batch by purchasing 70 chickens from her first sales.
"I get help from my family members", says Calecia, "but the growth of the project will mean that I will have to employ outside persons to help as the project expands."
Income and employment generation is part of the vision for GET-START, the name of the economic assistance project.
"The 44 projects that we envision by year end could mean a possible 120 new jobs provided for persons in our communities," says Lee Arbouin who is vice-president of the council.
11 projects each quarter
Arbouin says the plan is to start 11 projects each quarter in the communities represented at the council level, namely Woods Town, Bethel Town, Old Folly, Discovery Bay, Queenhythe, Content, Thicketts, Liberty Hill, Discovery Bay Community Development Council, Ginger Hall and Jacks Lodge.
The projects, so far, include chicken and goat rearing, and a small tile making industry started by the Old Folly Community Organisation. However, the scope has widened in the second quarter to include start-up funding for small businesses in furniture making, barbering, garage operations and hairdressing.
The projects are recommended to the community council on a prescribed application form. If approved for a grant, the material for the start-up project is delivered to the small-business operator who must fit the criteria of integrity, hard work and the ability to grow the business.
"The agricultural grants so far are quite basic - three piglets, 50 chickens for a start, but they are appreciated and we intend to make them grow into viable enterprises," says Tamika Fairweather of Woods Town.
The Old Folly community tile-making project represents micro industry in need of marketing. "We have started out slowly," says George Brown, the group leader, "but our six members are seeing growing interest from hotels along the north coast in our patio style blocks which are cut from machinery and material donated by Noranda."
"We are already seeing good results from this GET-START programme," says Pansy Johnson, president of Noranda Jamaica. "We will continue to give our full support to our partners in the community and at RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) to make it grow."