The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has invested over $6 billion on improvement projects in sugar-dependent communities across the island since 2009.
The projects, undertaken through the European Union (EU)-funded Sugar Transformation Unit (STU), include the provision of, at a cost of some $2.4 billion cane road, and drain projects – $500 million; social infrastructure projects to include schools, clinics, sporting facilities, water supply systems, and libraries – $1.4 billion; and provision of $1.82 billion to the Cane Expansion Fund, leading to improved production.
State Minister, Hon. Luther Buchanan, made the disclosure to JIS News during the recent opening of the upgraded Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning’s (JFLL) literacy centre in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.
“It is our firm belief that if we are to achieve sustainable development, people must be at the centre of any developmental project that we undertake,” he said.
“It is for that reason, therefore, that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the Sugar Transformation Unit, has been investing billions of dollars on transformation programmes islandwide,” he added.
Mr. Buchanan informed that 34 projects, valued at some $450 million, have been undertaken in Westmoreland under the STU to include construction/rehabilitation of health and community centres, schools, agro-park, road, electrification and water supply systems.
He told JIS News that a further $200 million is slated to be spent on the renovation of a health centre; construction and equipping of a computer laboratory at
St. Paul’s Primary School, a greenhouse at Grange Hill High School, and a computer laboratory at George’s Plain Primary School; renovation and refurbishing of the Shrewsbury/Logwood Basic School; and upgrading of the Bath Basic School.
The JFLL’s literacy centre was upgraded through the STU at a cost of $4 million. The project included the refurbishing of classrooms and a computer laboratory, and the installation of 11 computers and related equipment.
Mr. Buchanan urged residents to make use of the facility to learn new skills and to upgrade their education. “We are living in a technologically advanced world where companies are now seeking persons, who are multi-skilled and so we have to continually upgrade ourselves,” he pointed out.
The Agriculture State Minister also commended the EU for its commitment to the people of Jamaica and the development of rural communities.
By Garwin Davis