THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES SUPPORT FOR FARMERS WITH BUY-BACK PROGRAM
Floyd Green, Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, stated that the government will continue its program of buying excess agricultural produce from farmers. He made his remarks during the virtual launch of the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) partnership, noting that $60 million has been set aside for the farmer support program. Of that amount, the government will provide $35 million, and the remaining $25 million will come from the Food and Agricultura Organization (FAO). The buy-back program is designed to purchase excess produce from farmers and to help those who cannot sell their produce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, farmers in St. Elizabeth are benefitting from the program to address the oversupply of tomatoes.
JAMAICA TO CLOSE ITS EMBASSY IN BRAZIL
Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, announced that Jamaica will close the Jamaican Embassy in the Federative Republic of Brazil as of March 1, 2021. The closure is related to budget limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jamaican government commits to the maintenance of its long-time diplomatic relations with Brazil, however. The decision to close the embassy was made on the basis of several factors, including rising operational costs and the minimal consular services requested of the mission. Fewer than 200 Jamaicans live in the countries within the responsibility of the Embassy, Johnson Smith noted.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
CARICOM MONITORING DEVELOPMENTS IN HAITI
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) secretariat is concerned about recent developments occurring in Haiti and issued a statement to announce that it is monitoring the situation closely. The organization has also urged “all stakeholders to be guided by the Constitution, respect for the rule of law and the electoral process.” A timetable for elections has been established, according to CARICOM. The organization expressed its “anguish” about the security situation in Haiti in which armed gangs are threatening the country and disrupting the lives of citizens. CARICOM issued its statement after reports that opposition parties in Haiti declared Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis, 72, as its interim leader a day after an alleged coup attempt had been stopped. The opposition is insisting that current president Jovenel Moise must leave his leadership position. Moise has ruled by decree since the middle of January 2021 and has said he will give power to the winner of the elections, but would not leave office until the end of his term in 2022.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DONATES COMPUTER DEVICES TO ISLAND STUDENTS
The Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (UJAA) has donated J$11 million in computer devices to some 300 students at various schools in Jamaica. The laptops and tablets are being provided to help these students continue their education in the online learning environment required by lockdowns imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lesley-Ann Samuels, the president of the New York-based organization, said the Laptop-‘N-Tablet program was designed to alleviate some of the challenges placed on Jamaica’s educational system by the coronavirus. She noted that the 61 members of the UJAA began discussions about how they could help as early as July 2020 and negotiated with Dell and Best Buy to provide the computer equipment to Jamaican students.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
FAIR TRADING COMMISSION FINDS JAMAICAN MOBILE TELECOM MARKET COMPETITIVE, BUT WARNS AGAINST “COORDINATED CONDUCT”
The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has issued a warning that the mobile telecommunications market in Jamaica could be impacted by “coordinated conduct” among the dominant players in the that sector. The FTC made its statement after assessing Jamaica’s mobile telecommunications market in a study completed in September of 2020 and requested by the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), the national regulator of radio frequency under the country’s Telecommunication Act of 2000. The main finding of the study was that the market was competitive, but also susceptible to coordinated conduct from its major players.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
JAMAICAN MUSICIANS TO BE INDUCTED TO YGB ICON HALL OF FAME
Several Jamaican artists, including Freddie McGregor and Marcia Griffiths will be inducted into the New York-based Young, Gifted & Black (YGB) Caribbean Music Entertainment ICON Hall of Fame during Black History Month on February 24, 2021. Other Jamaican inductees will include Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, and Machel Montano. According to Carl Gray, the ICON Hall of Fame represents an important platform for memorializing such trailblazers as “historical members of society and their culture.” The YGB Entrepreneurial Awards, founded by Gray in 2006, are designed to allow peers to acknowledge talent, ambition, and achievements in the continuing pursuit of success. Previous winners of the awards include Tony Rebel (2017), Richie Stephens (2018), Bounty Killer (2019) and Tanya Stephens (2020). The organization’s Nina Simone Artistic Excellence Awards will honor Michael Rainey, Jr, American-Jamaican actor on Starz’s “Power Book II – Ghost;” Nigel Birch, Jr., Canadian spoken word poet and author, and Sheila Sheldon Charles, Kenyan painter, model, and designer.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE MEN’S INDOOR SHOT PUT DOMINATED BY JAMAICANS
Jamaicans have taken the top three spots at the men’s indoor shot put rankings at the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) one week before the championships are scheduled in Birmingham, Alabama. The three Jamaicans are Deandre Fyffe, Cesar Kemp and Danniel Bailey. Fyffe is a former student at Excelsior High School, while Bailey attended St. George’s College. The duo, who both attend Arkansas Pine-Bluff, have also taken the top spots in the men’s weight throw. Kemp, a former Calabar High School athlete currently attending Alabama State University rounded out the top three in shot put. Fyffe was named Empire Eight Conference Outdoor Rookie of the Year in 2019, leads the shot put with his personal best throw of 16.19 meters set at the Kansas State Wildcat Invitational in early January 2021. Kemp, the SWAC defending champion in the event, took second place with a season’s best throw of 15.58 meters.