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JEEP rolls into agriculture

Published:Sunday | May 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM
From left Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke with Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, and Helen Jenkinson a representative of the European Union.-Photo by Gareth Davis
Calecia Johnson of Farm Town, Discovery Bay, is like a mother to her chickens raised under the GET START economic assistance programme -Contributed

PetroCaribe money to fuel gov't employment programme

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

MORE THAN 1,200 jobs are to be created in agriculture under the Government's flagship project, the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).

"They are projects that are planned and when the money is in the budget they will be implemented in this financial year," Donovan Stanberry, the permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry told The Sunday Gleaner.

Information presented in the recently tabled estimates of expenditure for the 2012-2013 fiscal year indicates that the Government plans to spend $78 million to create 1,236 agriculture-related jobs.

A further $1 billion is allocated to the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing for JEEP-related infrastructure programmes.

Funding for the agriculture portion of JEEP is to come from the PetroCaribe Fund.

JEEP is the manifestation of a campaign promise made by the People's National Party (PNP).

It is aimed at providing short-term employment for Jamaicans, in light of the cruel economic conditions.

Included in the list of JEEP projects that have been identified in agriculture is the spending of $14 million to foster the production of fruit juices and liquid eggs for the school-feeding programme.

"The school-feeding programme is going to underpin much of our agricultural thrust this year," Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke told The Sunday Gleaner.

Similarly, Stanberry said a number of opportunities for employment are to be created within the agriculture sector.

"Among them is a specific programme to promote community efforts to produce for the school feeding programme."

But Clarke and Stanberry refused to release any other information on the plans for the agriculture sector and its relationship with the JEEP.

Clarke said he would be speaking to those issues when he makes his contribution to the Budget debate on May 30.

critical issues

Nonetheless, Clarke said the administration has identified two critical issues in agriculture that will be addressed this year.

"Enemy number one is idle land; enemy number two, two-foot puss," Clarke said.

"We are going to be making an onslaught on praedial larceny this year, in no uncertain terms," the minister added.

In the meantime, the Government has targeted agriculture as one key sector in creating employment.

The agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing sector accounts for the largest proportion of the male labour force and in October 2011, its share of male classifiable labour force was 23 per cent.

The 2011 labour market survey, tabled in Parliament last Thursday, indicates that of the 1.2 million Jamaicans in the labour market, 159,700, or an increase of 10,700 over the 2010 number, were classified as unemployed.

The report, prepared and published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), said employment in the industry group "wholesale and retail, and the repair of motor vehicles and equipment increased by 16,900 persons between October 2010 and October 2011".

During the same period, employment in "agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing" declined by 29,100 persons.

The unemployment rate of 12.8 per cent in October 2011 represents an increase of 0.8 per cent when compared with 12 per cent in October 2010.

Unemployment rate for youths aged 14-24 years was 31.1 per cent in October 2011, no significant change compared with 30.9 per cent in October 2010.

Fruit juices 10 million 150
Liquid eggs 4 million 200
Agri marts 14 million 150
Twickenham Bammy Factory 3 million 36

Revivification and registration

of farmers 6 million 100
Urban farming initiative 2 million 50
Residential crop-care experts 7 million 100
Farm road maintenance 10 million 400
Nursery programme 10 million 50