Mr. Shaw was addressing the sixth annual staging of the REAP awards ceremony and luncheon, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on June 7.
REAP encourages students to participate in sustainable environmental practices, including tree planting, recycling, energy conservation and well-kept schools and community environment.
The tree-planting programme announced by Mr. Shaw, which is dubbed the ‘Greening of Jamaica’, will be implemented over a period of five years and will result in the planting of a total of five million trees.
The programme was first mentioned by Mr. Shaw during his 2018/19 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on May 1.
Mr. Shaw said his programme is likely to be adopted by other developing countries.
“In my meeting with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, I told him about the plan, and he has indicated with keen interest the FAO working with Jamaica to make a model out of it for developing countries,” he said.
Mr. Shaw met with Mr. Da Silva in Rome, Italy, in the capacity of Chairman of the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, while attending the 159th Meeting of the Council of the FAO of the United Nations, recently.
The Minister plans to extend the fruit tree-planting programme into a reforestation project, as “there are a lot of critical forests across Jamaica that we have watched become denuded”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw is planning to moot a proposal for the establishment of a law that will make it mandatory to separate solid waste from recyclables, including plastic.
He said that separating garbage, which has been practised in other developed countries, has become critical, especially in light of the threats of plastic to the oceans and the environment.
Meanwhile, Founder and Executive Director of the Lasco Affiliated Companies, Lascelles Chin, said REAP represents LASCO’s deep concern for the future of Jamaica and invested $43 million in the programme, designed to build environmental awareness, education and development among students.
Under the programme, Mr. Chin noted that a total of 500 schools have been involved with 27,000 trees planted and seven million plastic bottles collected.
“We continue to encourage schools to maintain their vegetable gardens. This has been a tremendous success, as revenues collected by many schools exceed $500,000 each per annum. Lasco remains committed to REAP,” he said.
Mr. Chin urged the students to protect and preserve the environment, describing it as a “lifelong commitment and journey”.
The Lasco Founder and Chairman said that Fort George Primary and Infant School, recipient of the 2017 REAP Award, was able to secure a grant of $4.1 million from the Culture, Health, Arts,
Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund to improve water catchment, reading and recreational facilities at the institution.
For his part, REAP Programme Director, Stephen Newland, said more focus will be placed on growing school gardens.
Among the 20 schools participating in the 2017/18 staging of the REAP competition, Newstead Primary School from St. Mary placed first.
The sixth staging of REAP was held under the theme ‘Rooting for Nature’.
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