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The Sawyers Local Forest Management Committee (LFMC) has established an automatic weather station which president of the LMFC, Mr. Toussaine Brown, says will decrease the losses faced by farmers as a result of extreme weather conditions.

“The Meteorological Service of Jamaica will provide us with timely and frequent weather updates that will be shared with farmers and this will help them to know when to plant and when not to plant. We are one big farming community and we have to protect our livelihood and the weather station will help in doing that especially with climate change and how it will continue to affect every sector of society, including the agricultural sector,” Mr. Brown said.

The automatic weather station is being funded under a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme valued at US $118,000 and will serve the communities of Sawyers, Alps, Ulster Spring, Clark's Town, Jackson Town, Barnstable and Blagrove Drive.

The funds, which will be dispatched over a two year period, will also go towards expanding the LMFC's apiculture venture with the addition of 35 colonies which will be spread across the communities of Sawyers, Clark's Town, Alps and Brampton. The funds will also go towards reforesting one hectare of land, basket making and the planting of 20,000 scotch bonnet peppers as well as turmeric and ginger.

"We will also be conducting eight environment workshops in collaboration with the Forestry Department with focus on climate change and how genders adapt to climate change as well as mitigation efforts,” Mr. Brown noted.

Since its establishment in 2012, the Sawyers Local Forest Management Committee (LFMC) has been working not only for the benefit of its members but the wider community of Sawyers and neighbouring communities in Trelawny.

The Sawyers LFMC, which gained benevolent society status in 2016, has been seizing opportunities to better empower its members and communities to achieve sustainable growth and develop good agricultural practices.

Through funding from the GEF Small Grants Programme as well as the Digicel Foundation, the LMFC has established an apiculture and agroforestry venture and has trained unattached youth in entrepreneurial efforts with assistance from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo). The group has also engaged in reforestation efforts in the Hyde Hall Mountain Forest Reserve.

Mr. Brown says that while the work has its fair share of challenges especially with getting funding for the various projects, the LMFC remains committed to making an impact in Sawyers and surrounding communities.

Their work has not gone unnoticed.  They have been awarded the first place prize in the Social Development Commission's Local Economic Development Support Programme and was recognised as a Forest Hero for its outstanding work, which helps in fulfilling the mandate of the Forestry Department: 'managing and conserving the forest resources of Jamaica for the benefit of present and future generations'.

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