Jamaica News: The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) is preparing to enter Phase Seven of the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP).
This was disclosed by BCDP Project Coordinator, Clarence Osbourne, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on Tuesday (March 12).
He explained that under phase seven, another tranche of funds is expected to be paid over to the Programme to continue to administrate the multifaceted project.
“The submissions have been sent to the Ministry of Transport and Mining and they have, in turn, taken it to the Ministry of Finance for them to provide the necessary support,” he said.
The BCDP, which was established by Cabinet decision in 1996, is a programme of direct investments to ensure sustainable development for communities affected by bauxite mining.
It was developed by the JBI along with consultants from the then Ministry of Agriculture and Mining.
It was created to facilitate the reinvestment of earnings from the bauxite/alumina industry in the communities affected by mining operations, the implementation of sustainable income and employment-generating projects, the improvement of social and physical infrastructure, and increased economic activities and capacity building to ensure that there is ‘life after bauxite’.
According to Mr. Osbourne, the programme deals with areas of education, training, agriculture, infrastructure and community development in general, and has, so far, facilitated initiatives such as the rehabilitation of school buildings, community centres, roads, outfield agriculture and greenhouse agriculture.
“We work through Community Councils to determine the kinds of projects that are needed, and work closely with the agencies that have the ability to manage the projects to see if they are feasible. When they are feasible, we take it to our Steering Committee, which is our Board, and they will decide whether or not to approve,” he explained.
“We also work through a number of stakeholders, such as the bauxite companies, municipal corporations and numerous government agencies,” Mr. Osbourne said.
He pointed out that synergies have developed with entities, and one particular partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the JBI developed into a very successful BCDP project, the Water Harvesting and Greenhouse initiative.
“We have in excess of 160 greenhouses impacting eight sites in four bauxite areas, where each of the farmers is given a 3,000-square-foot greenhouse,” he said.
Mr. Osbourne explained that prior to the establishment of the greenhouses, mined-out pits were rehabilitated.
“They were prepared by the bauxite companies and lined with polyethylene material. The JSIF then contributed in excess of $200 million to assist in the infrastructural work, building the greenhouses and providing the irrigation system,” he added.
The Project Coordinator said that while the bauxite companies assisted in providing manpower to prepare the ponds, the JBI was responsible for lining the ponds and for installing the solar-powered irrigation pumps. He pointed out that the programme is going exceptionally well and that the farmers are being assisted with their business processes by a farmers’ cooperative society.
“We work on a basis that the farmers receive 70 per cent of what they sell and 30 per cent is retained for the sustainability of the programme. This assists them to buy material such as chemicals for the next crop,” Mr. Osbourne said.
He noted that a scholarship fund has also been created to supplement the project. Under the scholarship programme, persons from the community are selected through the Community Councils to pursue studies at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Greenhouse Management. The scholarship recipients are contracted to return to their communities to provide technical support to the greenhouse farmers.
Source: JIS News