SHARING THE LOVE: Rose Hill students get tablets

Five-minute feature on acts of kindness by local or overseas based non-government individuals and organisations that have benefitted Jamaicans.

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Written and produced by the Radio Department of the Jamaica Information Service

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News for Week of December 19, 2021
We are here to inspire, motivate and uplift.

Farmers get help to recover from storms

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw has expressed appreciation to the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) for its invaluable support to Jamaica’s farmers with the contribution of seeds valued at $1.5 million.

The donation was in support of the country’s national recovery programme following the passage of tropical storms Grace and Ida in August that destroyed 4, 595 hectares of crops valued at some $1.6 billion and impacted 17, 823 farmers.

“The agriculture sector is one that has to recover quickly when met with these and other crises as it accounts for 7.1% of gross domestic product, and contributes approximately 15.2% of the country’s employment, “ said Shaw.

To facilitate farmers getting back into production in the shortest possible time, the Ministry also allocated $70 million for the distribution of seeds and other planting materials, pesticides and other inputs through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority.

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Do you have mangoes? We have the markets!

Chief Executive Officer of the Agro Investment Corporation Dr. Al Powell said Jamaica has the potential to expand its foothold in the global market for mango, which is valued at US$18 billion.

He noted that in 2020, the country supplied over 291,321 kilograms of the fruit overseas, valuing US$623,190.

“But that’s a drop in the bucket compared with big countries that are producing mangoes, and there are over 100 countries. We have China, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Australia and so on,” he said. “So, we can now export to many countries in the world, even though our traditional markets are the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and in recent times, Cayman, Barbados, and other places, so the opportunities are really large.”

To capitalise on the opportunities, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the corporation, has established a mango agro park in Spring Plains Clarendon. Five investors are part of a phased roll out of the 1,000-acre orchard.

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Free COVID-19 test kits coming for public

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is to acquire 150,000 coronavirus (COVID-19) self-testing kits for the public free of cost.

Portfolio Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton said, “That process is taking place, as we speak, in terms of determining the [type of] kits and ensuring that the choice is supported by the appropriate documentation”.

The minister said that “the intention is that once these kits are imported, to engage in a discussion with critical stakeholders… to determine the best approach to the distribution and use of these kits.”

Dr Tufton noted that there are tests that have become available on the market, which are approved by the critical regulatory agencies such as the World Health Organization and the United States Food and Drug Administration.

“We have taken a critical look at these new tests on the market, and we are now in a position to say, with an appropriate level of advice and caution, that we would like to encourage the use of self-administered home test kits in a particular context, along with particular protocols,” he said.

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Cancer Society
Cancer Society

Trecia Larmond (left), branch supervisor, BCIC Ocho Rios, makes a cheque for $150,000 to the Jamaica Cancer Society team of Executive Director Michael Leslie (right) and Marilyn Williams, St Ann/St Mary branch manager.

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Chinese Embassy
Chinese Embassy

Patsy Edwards-Henry, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, accepts medical supplies from a representative of the Chinese Embassy. The embassy donated medical supplies, including 100,000 medical masks and 100 medical thermometers, valued at $2.1 million.

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Pineapples
Pineapples

A representative from the Annotto Bay Fire Station shows off her freshly picked JP St Mary’s pineapple alongside JP St Mary’s Assistant Depot Manager Simone Saunderson during a handover of care packages with the vitamin C-rich fruit to the Fire Brigade. The donation by JP St Mary’s is part of an overall initiative to encourage essential workers to eat healthy foods to boost their immune systems.

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Cancer Society
Cancer Society

Trecia Larmond (left), branch supervisor, BCIC Ocho Rios, makes a cheque for $150,000 to the Jamaica Cancer Society team of Executive Director Michael Leslie (right) and Marilyn Williams, St Ann/St Mary branch manager.

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Public sector reform critical for growth, says finance minister

Dr Nigel Clarke, the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, said the transformation of the public sector is “critically important” to the country’s development.

He argued that there are three main imperatives driving the transformation – fiscal, addressing the governance deficit, and the need to improve service delivery.

In terms of the fiscal imperatives, Dr Clarke noted that “the Government of Jamaica does not have infinite resources and therefore, we have to organise our public sector in a way that allows us to optimise the use of our resources.”

He said that transforming the public sector will also ensure that entities operate by the highest standards and principles of governance.

“In a democracy, public trust and credibility are the only currencies that we have, and in order to ensure that public trust and public credibility are at their highest, we have to be seen to be doing our best to have a well-organised and efficient public service, and obvious gaps need to be addressed,” Dr. Clarke said.

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Portmore, St. Jago Park health centres for upgrade

The Greater Portmore Health Centre, in St. Catherine, is among several facilities slated for major upgrading and expansion.

There is “an urgent need to add significant expansion” to the healthcare facility, given the large population in Portmore that it serves, said Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton.

“The new building will provide the following services: oral rehydration, laboratory, isolation room, x-ray room, treatment and procedure rooms, asthma bay, diabetic retinopathy screening, and physiotherapy with examination and exercise rooms,” said the Minister.

Construction, which is slated to start in December 2022, is expected to end in November 2023, and forms part of the $31.2 billion to build out the public health infrastructure over the next three years.

The Minister also noted that the St. Jago Park Health Centre, in the parish, “is being prioritised for expansion to reduce the number of patients seen at the Spanish Town Hospital.”

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