Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has endorsed SCJ Holdings Limited’s (SCJH) navel string project, which will target the planting of one million trees islandwide, over the next four years. The project, to be implemented at a cost of over $25 million, is being undertaken in partnership with several Ministries, Departments and Agencies. It aims to, among other things, increase local food production; provide a source of fruits to boost agro-processing; provide employment and culture change in schools and communities; reduce the country’s carbon foot print; increase the country’s stock of lumber trees; protect water sheds; and support the national climate change initiative. Speaking at Tuesday’s (February 17) launch at the National Water Commission’s (NWC) artificial groundwater facility at Innswood, St, Catherine, Mr. Kellier described the project as a “groundbreaking” initiative. “This is…because planting a tree or seed…(will) help us, in a significant way, to address issues of climate change, environmental protection, and increased food production to aid food security,” he stated. While noting that the project’s targets are “very ambitious”, Mr. Kellier contended that they were all achievable. He also underscored the need for full participation by all multi-stakeholder groups involved “in order for us to reap the successes of this project.” These stakeholders include: the Ministries of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change; Local Government and Community Development; Education; Health; and Agriculture. Other partners include: the Forestry Department; National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA); Social Development Commission (SDC); and Jamaica 4-H Clubs. In commending SCJ Holdings for spearheading the initiative, Mr. Kellier urged participants to ensure that “this is truly the start of something big (and) the beginning of something extraordinary that will enrich the process of transformation and growth, to which this Government is committed.” Mr. Kellier, and Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who also attended, participated in a symbolic tree planting exercise which followed the ceremony. A total of seven fruit trees, inclusive of mango and jack fruit, were planted.