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JFJ wants widespread consultation on new national ID system

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JFJ wants widespread consultation on new national ID system

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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HUMAN rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is calling for widespread consultations to be held for the redrafting of the National Identification System (NIDS) Bill, which was struck down by the Constitutional Court last Friday.

JFJ said neither the Government nor the Opposition should interpret the ruling as a victory or a loss, but rather as an opportunity for the Government to redraft the legislation to comply with the constitution.

The group is recommending that a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament be set up to facilitate substantive input from all stakeholders.

JFJ is also urging the legislature to pass the regulations in tandem with the Act in order to ensure clarity, cohesion and fluidity. “JFJ participated in the drafting processes for both NIRA (National Identification and Registration Authority) and its regulations, and gained an appreciation of the obstacles faced with completing both processes independent of each other,” the group stated. It promised to continue offering assistance in the drafting process as, “We firmly believe that an inclusive and consultative process, bolstered by a supportive legal framework, will result in a robust and constitutionally compliant Act”.

At the same time, the rights group has called for the Government to prioritise the finalisation of the Data Protection Act, which was posited as a precursor to the now nullified NIDS Bill.

“NIDS will continue to face scrutiny until a data protection law is in effect,” said the JFJ.

The Data Protection Bill was referred to a Joint Select Committee for deliberations, but has been stalled for the past year. The committee had been chaired by former technology minister Dr Andrew Wheatley, who resigned from office in July.

The lobby group says it is of utmost importance that a strong legal framework for the protection of personal data be put in place before implementing any version of NIDS.

The Opposition has also called for the Joint Select Committee on the Data Protection Act to resume its sittings.

Speaking with the Observer shortly after the ruling last Friday, Opposition spokesman on technology Julian Robinson said: “One of the reasons we insisted, when Wheatley was removed, was to have a full-time minister as there were critical pieces of legislation that needed attention. Even now with another new minister, there has been no indication about when the Joint Select Committee will reconvene. It is nothing short of scandalous that something as important as NIDS, which was predicated on data protection, and data protection has just been languishing in Parliament,” he stated.

Government has touted a strong data protection legislative framework as one of the keys to crime fighting, as illegal access to and manipulation of data is an area of concern both internationally and locally.

At the American Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica’s inaugural regional data security conference held in Kingston last September Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said data security was key to successful enterprises across all sectors.

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Calls made for coffee farmers to get registered

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Calls made for coffee farmers to get registered

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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NORMAN Grant, president of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA), is pushing for all coffee farmers to be registered with the association.

According to Grant, who up to recently was the president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), he is concerned that only 4,167 of the known 4,578 coffee farmers in Jamaica are registered with JCEA, which means that there are at least 400 unregistered coffee farmers.

He said his association recently held discussions with the acting director general of Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Gusland McCook, on allowing unregistered farmers to continue selling coffee to the processors on condition that the processors assist in facilitating the registration of these farmers after the July 31 deadline.

“The JCEA’s aim is to have an ongoing registration programme for both existing and new coffee farmers, and, as we approach continuous registration, the coffee sector should have full compliance by the end of crop year 2019-20,” he stated.

He noted that the benefits of being registered include: Better control over praedial larceny; development of an insurance programme for coffee farmers; development and expansion of the coffee industry through increased production and productivity; and assistance in planning and administrating the farmers’ support programmes, including marketing.

Grant said the JCEA is appealing to the more than 5,000 coffee suppliers in the Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) and non-Blue Mountain areas to ensure that their farms are registered and, although the registration deadline has passed, they are being encouraged to contact JACRA or any of the member companies of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association for assistance.

Grant is currently in Japan leading the JCEA delegation to the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ) Exhibition, which ended on Saturday. The exhibition showcased Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee on the global space, as part of a strategy to reposition the Jamaican brand.

“We will also meet with members of the All Japan Association of Importers of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, to discuss orders and prices for the 2019-2020 crop year and look on a five-year marketing plan for the JBM coffee in the Japanese market,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Production of Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain coffee for crop year 2018-19 was 189,531 boxes and 13,974.75 boxes, respectively. This was 10,985.60 boxes more than the 178,500 boxes of Jamaica Blue Mountain cherry berry and 14,013 less than the 28,000 boxes for the prior 2017-18 crop, which resulted from a 50 per cent decrease in Jamaica High Mountain and an overall increase of six per cent for the Jamaica Blue Mountain brands.

However, the total overall production of coffee in Jamaica for the 2018-19 crop was 203,505.75, which was approximately 1.5 per cent less than the 206,533.15 for crop 2017-18. This resulted from a 1.5 per cent decline in production in 2018/19.

The estimated earnings from the total production is US$12.5 million, which is almost 50 per cent less than the US$28 million the industry generated at higher prices that were available three to four years ago, he explained.

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Champion farmer beating the drought

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Champion farmer beating the drought

BY SHANAE STEWART
Staff Reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 16, 2019

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The extensive drought affecting most of the island has left several farmers facing ruin but Michelle Black, who was crowned Champion Farmer at the recent 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show has found a way to beat the heat.

The St Ann-based Black, who operates the Golden Dutchie Farm, has managed to minimise her losses by practising smart farming.

According to Black, who has been farming for the past nine years, she adjusted how she operated the farm to reduce the impact of the drought.

She pointed out that before the drought she was able to export yams but this has to come to a halt and that has been her hardest hit.

“Now that the time is dry we don’t export what we usually do [but] we are now supplying hotels and major supermarkets. We haven’t lost anything for this year…well, in a sense we lost because we had to produce less according to the amount of water we had,” Black told the Jamaica Observer North & East

“With that being said, I would like to thank the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) for being a tower of strength as they trucked water to us. Peter Thompson, chief executive officer of RADA, I really want to thank him for his help.

“And, now that we are getting rain, it’s a little bit better for us and so now we are able to produce the amount of crops that we used to. We do sweet peppers, yam, lettuce and several herbs and spices,” said Black, who started out with only 600 hills of yam.

Today she has more than 40,000 hills of yam and employs approximately 18 persons, including five females.

Excited about being named Champion Farmer for 2019 Black she told the Observer that: “It’s a great feeling. It’s a really, really great feeling. I grew up with my grandfather farming. He was doing it on a small scale and when we had extra, he would of course sell, but it was mainly for household purposes so farming is something that I have always been close to.”

Black added: “I wasn’t too proud to get my hands dirty as much as I sing and persons who knew me as a singer were shocked to see me venture into farming, but, I’ve always been interested in farming or agriculture.

“I wanted to become a veterinary surgeon and like a lot of people, my parents couldn’t afford it and so I started singing, but nine years ago I decided that I still wanted to do something in farming because I have so much love for it. I’m really passionate about it, so I started and the rest is history.”

She is hoping that her work will be a motivation for other women who are considering getting into farming and despite her success so far Black is aiming higher.

“For Golden Dutchie Farm, the sky is the limit. We are going to be doing a lot of packaging and we are planning to put different products together.

“Right now we have a new product that I can’t mention as yet that we are putting together to introduce to the market and we are hoping to do some processing later on,” said Black.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Portland Credit Union gives a helping hand to students

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Portland Credit Union gives a helping hand to students

BY EVERARD OWEN
Observer writer

Monday, September 16, 2019

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The Portland Cooperative Credit Union has handed out approximately $1.5 million in grants to 78 students in the parish.

Addressing the handover function at the Tim Bamboo Hotel recently, general manager of the credit union Martin Blackwood noted that the students were awarded for their performance in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), past performances in the now abandoned Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), and the Howard Paulwell Scholarship winners.

“Over the years we have invested in education and we have seen over the last year $51.15 million dispersed in educational loans and we are investing approximately $1.5 million in education,” said Blackwood.

“We do this in recognition of excellence and the scholarships and bursaries represent excellence. There are 43 students who will be recognised who were exceptional in the PEP, 27 from GSAT [who are now] between grades eight and eleven and who have maintained an average of 80 per cent and above; five students for special assistance to attend tertiary institutions while three students were awarded the Howard Paulwell scholarship for $75,000 each for their stay at any tertiary institution,” added Blackwood.

The PEP awardees were given grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000.

Shamoya Clachar was awarded the Jamaica Credit Union League scholarship valued at $25,000.

The Howard Paulwell scholarship was awarded to Shavane Clarke who will be attending the Northern Caribbean University.

Kayla Wilson who attended Ken Wright Primary and has moved on to Westwood High School based on her PEP scores, was appreciative of her award.

“I am very happy that I did well and got the school of my choice. I am looking forward to doing well and this grant will help in my school expenses,” said Kayla.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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