Equipment valued at some $50 million has been made available to farmers, as part of measures to kick start the mechanisation process within the agricultural sector.
The equipment, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU), was handed over today (March 9), at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, at Hope, in Kingston.
The items include laptop computers, bush cutters, generators, mist sprayers and water pumps.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), examines a soil testing kit, one of several pieces of equipment which were handed over to the Ministry, in Kingston, today (March 9), by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU). Looking on is Senior Director for Technology and Training at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Mr. Phillip Chung.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, who spoke at the ceremony, said that the handing over of the equipment is a journey towards making agriculture more productive.
“It is an attempt to apply ourselves using the intellectual capacity, using the tools that are necessary to understand how to grow crops better. Farmers will only truly benefit from agriculture if they embrace, support and practise what is the best technical approach,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minister pointed out that the use of the equipment in the agricultural sector would make farmers more competitive.
“We are saying to you that this is the smarter way to do it, and this is the technology that exists, and it is incumbent on us to embrace the philosophy that agriculture is a business and should be operated on the fundamental principles of business,” Dr. Tufton emphasised.
Farmer from Dukenfield, St. Thomas, Mr. Delroy Smith, displays a mist blower, part of an assortment of equipment, which was handed over to the Ministry, in Kingston, today (March 9), by the United States Agency for International development (USAID) and the European Union (EU).
The Minister said farmers may be familiar with some of the equipment, but many of them have not had the opportunity to benefit from their utilisation.
“Our farmers have to embrace the technology if the technology is to work. The provision is a means to an end. The end will come when we see the yields improving with the engagement and utilisation of the equipment,” he added.
Dr. Tufton explained that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), would put in place a leasing programme where the equipment would be made available to farmers.
In his remarks, Director of the Office of Sustainable Development at the USAID, Mr. Ken Lyvers, said his organisation was pleased to be partnering with the Ministry to encourage and promote technological advancement within the agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has provided funding totalling US$216,000 over the next 18 months, for the development of a rain harvesting project in St. Elizabeth.
“The objective of this project is to introduce technology for the capture, storage and use of water and this technology is not only going to be used in St. Elizabeth. Once it is demonstrated, it will be available to the rest of Jamaica,” Representative in Jamaica, Belize and Bahamas for the FAO, Dr. Dunstan Campbell, pointed out.