RADA Hosts Greenhouse Technology Symposium


The island’s inaugural Greenhouse Technology Symposium was hosted by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Caribbean Agri-Business Association (CABA), yesterday (March 31), under the theme, ‘Getting it Right.’
State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, J.C. Hutchinson, in his presentation on: ‘The Ministry’s role in facilitating greenhouse production in Jamaica,’ said that the technology was being targeted as a priority area for the acceleration of productivity and profitability for persons engaged in the sector.
“We are negotiating with the Spanish Government for the funding of a Centre of Excellence for advanced technology under the CARICOM-Spain Bilateral Agreement. The centre, which will be located in Jamaica, will not only facilitate research among the scientists, but it will also facilitate collaboration among scientists, the end users and input suppliers for effective nutrient management,” he pointed out at the symposium, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston.
The centre will also provide hands on training for stakeholders and will add to the ministry’s work to broaden the scope of training opportunities for extension agents, research personnel and farmers. The $200 million training programme is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the European Union (EU) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
“This sum will be allocated for training extension agents, capacity building in greenhouse research and the establishment of four greenhouse clusters,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
The Cuban Government is also forthcoming with its technical expertise in the use of nutrient sources derived from effective waste management.
“As a follow up to an agreement signed in 2007, the Minister will lead a delegation to Cuba on Wednesday (April 2), to finalize plans for study tours and technical assistance in the setting up of our greenhouse systems,” he informed.
Additionally, the Ministry will also establish four greenhouse clusters in the initial phase and these will utilize the mother farm/satellite farm concept.
“These clusters will focus on best practices, providing production and marketing support for farmers, as well as training and re-training to be conducted by RADA’s extension agents. Each cluster will be co-ordinated by a management committee, comprised of ministry representatives, investors, farmers and end users with the aim of tracking market opportunities, performance and the maintenance of proper operating standards,” the State Minister said.
The Ministry has been pushing the use of greenhouse technology as the way to boost production in the sector, as a result of the high yield of crops grown using the technology, the pest free environment that the use of greenhouses offers to farmers and the consistency of supply.
The island’s greenhouse programmes will be co-ordinated by a specialist unit located at RADA’s head office at Hope Gardens.

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