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Contact: John Emmanuel

October 13, 1998 - The Ministry of Planning through its Social and Research Unit on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, begins to review mechanisms aimed at assisting persons at various levels of the banana industry, displaced as a result of recent restructuring.   Using funds under the European Union STABEX Assistance program, the unit commissioned a survey to examine ways of providing needed assistance.

In June of this year Cargill Technical Institute was contracted to carry out that survey. To date an initial report has been prepared. On Tuesday and Wednesday, major stakeholders met at the NIS Conference room, to review the findings and develop policy and program responses to them.

Research and Policy Officer at the Ministry of Planning says the recommendations highlight three main areas of Focus. AThe first looks at issues of coordination and management in terms of undertaking specific proposals and programs. The second area looks broadly at social areas of support, areas that perhaps in the past have not been consider to be particularly important in terms of the agricultural sector, but where the social problems within those agricultural regions have emerged. These areas include literacy, the need for pre-schooling, abuse counseling and care and support for older persons and rural women who are farmers.@

The third areas of support according to Mr. Williams takes into consideration economic support, examining issues such as skills training and employment, agro-tourism linkages, agro-processing and land reform matters.

The two-day workshop hoped to examine critically those broad areas, in order to determine how best assistance programs can be targeted to those persons likely to be affected by restructuring in the industry.

The flip side however is determining who gets assistance and what kind. That dilemma has been noted by the study.  Williams says it is not possible to say when that assistance will be forthcoming, as the process depends on the availability of funds from the European Union=s STABEX Program.



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