Women of Manchester restores agricultural projects for community development | News
In an effort to continue to empower rural women in the parish, the non-profit organization Women of Manchester (WOM) is looking to expand its operations and help the people it serves to become more self-reliant.
With about five chapters across the parish and about 300 members, the organization, which was started by older people who wanted to give back to the community, has successfully secured sponsorship from Food For The Poor in the form of farming equipment and a greenhouse to plant 600 onion seed trays before the pandemic began in the Mizpah community.
However, after the onion growers received the seedlings for planting, the operation was crippled by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t been very active since. We have just started again…we received another packet of seeds from RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) and we have started planting. We’ve already come out of it and this is the second batch, but we want to fill the house again and keep rolling,” explained the organization’s vice president, Denise Walters.
Dedicated to “changing the landscape for women in the parish of Manchester”, the movement’s chair, Myrna Bailey, said WOM has been able to successfully undertake several other initiatives, which she hopes to continue.
“We started a school feeding breakfast program. We partnered with the Trees that Feed Foundation, which gave us trees like akee and breadfruit that helped give people enough to eat and sell; and we also taught them how to make breadfruit flour. We have also, through Food For The Poor, helped people find housing. What we try [to] do is match resources with people who need help.
Bailey said she hopes the initiative will be expanded to other parishes to help other women become self-sufficient with help from local and international funding bodies.
Recently, the Mizpah chapter of WOM engaged French Ambassador to Jamaica Olivier Guyonvarch, who indicated that an assessment will be carried out to see if support can be given to the organization.
“I have to figure out how my office can do something for the community. I would like to serve the products that are grown here at my embassy and see what we can do here in the future,” Guyonvarch said.
Project manager at the Mizpah site, Levena Myles, and volunteer coordinator Leon Samms said plans were underway to develop agribusiness.
“Three years ago we planted bok choi, cabbage, Irish potato, carrot, bell pepper and kale, among other seedlings[s], and when we sold them, we used the funds to buy ingredients to make sweet potato wine; and this is the first of our venture into agribusiness,” said Myles.
Samms revealed that there are plans to have it tested and approved for consumption in the market, which has a mandate to help women engage in activities that will produce monetary benefits.
He added that the group is now engaging the services of RADA to start its new strawberry production project.