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Results Briefs October 23, 2020

Boosting Agricultural and Rural Livelihoods in Jamaica


Greenhouse Cluster Operation, Jamaica. Photo: World Bank

World Bank

Jamaica improved the livelihoods of people in rural areas by developing opportunities for more than 19,000 micro- and small-scale rural agricultural producers and tourism services providers. Promoting modern agricultural technologies and practices boosted agricultural productivity by as much as 50 to 400 % and increased farm incomes by five to ten times. Upgraded community-based tourism infrastructure and facilities helped to roughly double community tourism traffic, increasing income from two to ten times previous levels. Twenty-two % of the 19,000 beneficiaries were younger than 30 years old, and 51 % were women.


Although national poverty rates in Jamaica declined from 30.4 % in 1989 to 9.9 % in 2007, the decline in rural poverty was more modest: from 22 % to 15.3 %. If Jamaica was to achieve “Developed Country” status, as targeted in the government of Jamaica’s Vision 2030 plan, development of rural areas needed to keep pace with development in urban areas. The agriculture and tourism sectors held the most significant potential for rural growth and development because of their overall importance to the economy. In 2009, the agricultural sector, while accounting for only 4.8 % of GDP, represented an important source of income for the rural population and accounted for 18.4 % of total employment. Service sectors, of which tourism is a significant component, accounted for about 75 % of GDP.


The Bank was well positioned to assist Jamaica in promoting rural growth. Both in Latin America and globally, the Bank has supported projects to enhance rural growth, particularly by targeting the small farmer and community tourism sectors; examples include the Colombia Productive Partnerships Support Project I and II,  Ecuador Poverty Reduction and Local Rural Development, Vietnam Agriculture Competitiveness Project, and the Ethiopia Tourism Development Project. Looking at these global examples, Jamaica requested Bank support for a project to stimulate its own rural economic growth and increase the country’s overall competitiveness. The resulting Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project helped rural agricultural producers and tourism product and service providers to create legally recognized rural micro and small enterprises and to link them to markets by: (i) providing financial and technical support to small-scale agricultural and rural tourism enterprises; (ii) assisting in developing critical market-oriented, small-scale infrastructure, marketing, and management; (iii) increasing access to technical innovation and business support services; (iv) enhancing financial management of rural enterprises; and (v) providing technical and environmental skills development, including disaster mitigation and recovery training.


of project rural enterprises increased their access to markets


The REDI project successfully concluded in July 2017 after exceeding most of its targets for improving market access for over 19,000 micro- and small-scale rural producers and tourism service providers. Key results achieved between the project’s implementation in 2010 and its closing in 2017 include the following:

  • REDI’s productive investments in small-scale agriculture and community tourism delivered significant benefits for participating rural farmers and community tourism service providers, increasing agricultural productivity and tourism sales, raising revenues for rural enterprises, and improving the incomes of farming and tourism members. The project’s design included a component for financing small-scale investments aimed at increasing productivity and incomes for farmers and tourism providers. The increases in agricultural productivity were most clearly demonstrated in the crop (as opposed to animal-raising) agriculture subprojects, where investments in modern agricultural technologies and practices increased yields by as much as 50 to 400 %, resulting in farm income gains of five to ten times pre-REDI levels. Subproject investments in upgrading tourism infrastructure and facilities contributed to roughly doubling tourism traffic and increased tourism income from twice to ten times pre-REDI levels.
  • REDI’s investments in innovations and new technologies likely contributed to changes in the demographic composition of small rural agricultural producers. More young people and women entered the agriculture sector, likely due to changes in perspective and the increased use of labor-saving technologies. The project contributed to changing  perceptions of agriculture from a subsistence activity to a business, which in turn attracted more young people into the field (at least in the targeted areas); new technologies that rendered the work less physically arduous encouraged women to take part as well. Data from REDI’s results framework indicate that the project exceeded its targets for participation by youth (22 % versus a target of 11 %) and women (51 % versus a target of 30 %); these results also exceed Jamaica’s national averages for youth and female participation (9 % and 30 %, respectively).
  • REDI provided technical assistance and training that strengthened the technical and business management capacities of small-scale farmers and community tourism providers. The assistance and training were equally important as the productive investments they accompanied. In the agricultural subprojects, REDI-trained subsistence farmers learned to install, operate, and maintain drip irrigation systems (more than 600 acres), construct and maintain greenhouses (50 % more greenhouses and 40 % greater area under protected cultivation), and employ good agricultural practices. In the community tourism subprojects, REDI training enabled community tourism providers to prepare and implement business plans, employ modern business practices (e.g., planning, recordkeeping, marketing), and, eventually, compete in the tourism market with large-scale tourism operators. This included preparing tourism enterprises to make sales calls and participate in fairs where they could showcase their products.
  • REDI supported business development, including improving access to markets, significantly expanding rural agricultural producers’ and community tourism providers’ commercial opportunities. REDI enabled 86 % of project rural enterprises to increase their access to markets. REDI assisted small-scale agricultural producers to meet the needs of large-scale tourism facilities, replacing their international agricultural imports with domestic production. REDI facilitated access to these agricultural markets by helping producers identify relevant market opportunities for their produce and by connecting producers with purveyors, wholesale marketers, and large-scale tourism buyers. REDI assisted small-scale tourism providers in building their capacity to offer cultural, ecological, and community tourism opportunities to domestic and international tourists — “the real Jamaica” experience, as an alternative to traditional “sun and sand” resort tourism.
  • REDI showed the potential for economic contributions from small-scale agriculture and community tourism, leading to the government’s increased willingness to support investments in these subsectors. REDI activities helped increase productivity and rural incomes in otherwise stagnant rural subsectors of the Jamaican economy.

World Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), provided a loan in the amount of US$15 million to finance nearly 90 % of the total project cost.


Greenhouse Cluster Operation, Jamaica. Photo: World Bank


Project success depended on the partnership between the national government (mainly the Ministry of Industries, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Tourism and their respective operational agencies: Rural Agricultural Development Authority and Tourism Product Development Company, and the Planning Institute of Jamaica) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the project implementing agency. JSIF was incorporated in 1996 as a component of Jamaica’s National Poverty Eradication Program, and it had already integrated infrastructure development, human and social capacity building, and environmental stewardship prior to partnering on the REDI project. In 2009, JSIF received an ISO 14001 certification for environmental management systems. Most of the institutional strengthening attributable to this project related to enhancing JSIF’s collaboration with the private sector, including rural enterprises. The JSIF’s private sector-related institutional strengthening came from changing its focus to business activities at two levels. At the higher level, JSIF developed the requisite system to select business entities promising good governance and transparency. At the level of rural enterprises, it developed the capacity to inquire into markets for rural enterprises. More broadly, JSIF also strengthened its capacity to address its clients’ human resource constraints, limited access to business development services, and limited organizational capacity.

Moving Forward

The success of this project laid the foundation for a larger-scale follow-up: a US$40 million IBRD-financed operation, REDI II, which was approved by the Bank’s Executive Directors on November 14, 2019. REDI II will provide additional income opportunities for poor rural households with a focus on youth and women while enhancing resilience to climate change.


Louise Lawrence, a farmer, was unemployed when she heard about a course in greenhouse technology. Louise’s greenhouse is one of the 172 built under the REDI project. Louise and more than 1,400 other people have been employed as small agricultural producers through this initiative. They learned new farming and marketing methods and how to connect to new markets, such as local hotels, to sell their production.

Louise described her experience: “I had no earnings, my own money, because I was sitting at home doing nothing. Nothing at all. Right now, in this project we have nine women. Persons retired, and they come. You know. They come in, they join in with us on this project. They are more independent. . . . From this project, we earn our own money. . . . We have persons that were not trained, young persons who were not trained. Young lady to be specific. She was not trained, and she is on the farm right now and I know she is a proud greenhouse farmer as well. She is earning her own money. She can send her children to school because of this project. We are really happy for it.”


Greenhouse beneficiary, Jamaica. Photo: World Bank

Learn More .

JSIF Rural Economic Development Initiative REDI Feature:

REDI project website: The Rural Economic Development Initiative

Vision 2030 Jamaica: