Chairman of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Dr. Wayne Henry, says the entity, through the Rural Economic Development Initiative, Phase II (REDI II), has been responding to the recovery efforts of small agricultural and community tourism enterprises left vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a handover ceremony of COVID-19 resilient supplies to operators in both sectors, at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove at the Richmond Estate in St. Ann on January 28, JSIF announced a $52.4-million investment to bring further support to these small community enterprises.
This will be executed under the COVID-19 Resilience and Capacity Building sub-project of REDI II, which is being funded by the World Bank
Speaking at the event, Dr. Henry outlined that this investment seeks to address public health within the spaces, in order to curtail the ill-effects of the pandemic, thus improving the livelihoods of these small entrepreneurs.
“We at JSIF are elated to make a difference in people’s lives, as we are cognisant that the rural population depends overwhelmingly on agriculture and community tourism for their livelihoods,” Dr. Henry indicated.
“So, although we are currently faced with unprecedented economic challenges, there is hope for these sectors, which we heavily rely on for the revitalisation of the economy,” he added.
The sub-project is to directly benefit 1,660 beneficiaries, including farming groups and community tourism enterprises. This will further provide indirect benefits to another 18,000 persons who interact with these enterprises.
Additionally, 60 COVID-19 safety point persons will be trained as well as 150 community tourism stakeholders and 1,200 farmers in the area of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Some 200 Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) extension officers and 50 Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) training officers will also be trained.
“Agricultural bodies such as RADA must be commended, as they are essential for supporting the farming community. Let me also commend TPDCo for continuing to provide the necessary guidelines for the development of standards and the improvement of tourism enterprises,” said Dr. Henry.
“I can assure you that the REDI II project will endeavour to continue to empower entrepreneurs in the agricultural and tourism sectors to become more viable in this pandemic period. I urge you all to remain steadfast as we work together to improve lives, livelihoods, and our economy,” he added.