Bridgetown– Jamaican farmers will be getting a £16.7 million boost to help them increase productivity and gain greater market access.

This has been made possible through a grant from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) under the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) which is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). At its meeting on Thursday, the Board of Directors of CDB agreed to the grant for the Southern Plains Agricultural Development Project (SPAD).

The project will target 795 hectares of government-owned lands which will be leased to farmers in the communities of Amity Hall in St. Catherine and Parnassus in Clarendon. It will provide essential agricultural production and market infrastructure and marketing systems for the farmers.

Small and medium sized farmers will make up the majority of the beneficiaries with 495 hectares allocated for them. Some 15 percent of the space – 124 hectares – will be reserved for women farmers and 70 hectares for young farmers. The planned infrastructure works, incorporating climate resilience measures, will include: improved irrigation, drainage and flood control systems; and farm roads expansion and rehabilitation.

Farmers will also benefit from marketing systems enhancement, including the construction of new pack houses and associated facilities in support of farmer compliance with the GLOBAL G.A.P standard. These structures will incorporate both renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. CDB Director of Projects Daniel Best said the project is aligned with the recently launched Essex Valley Agricultural Project in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica and once again demonstrated how strategic investments in agriculture could help transform the Region’s economies…[+]