RADA Reports Increase in Crop Production in Manchester


The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is reporting an increase in crop production in Manchester.
Deputy RADA Parish Manager, Samuel Harris, said that more than 4,253 hectares of crop were reaped in Manchester for the period June 2008 to June 2009, reflecting a 16.5 per cent increase over the previous reporting period.
“That is very good. That places (Manchester) third on the all-island list of high producers,” Mr. Harris said, as he addressed a Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) general meeting held recently at St. Mark’s Anglican Church Hall in Mandeville.
He informed that apiary farming was growing in the parish and “a number of good farmers” have entered the industry. In addition, he said, livestock production continues to progress, even with the challenges of accessing inputs, especially for pig and poultry farming.
As it relates to the registration process, which is aimed at providing legitimate farmers with technical support and assistance to improve productivity, Mr. Harris said that 14,205 farmers in the parish have registered to date and identification cards were being distributed.
“We are at 14,205 registered farmers presently, an increase of over 4,000. We are now distributing identification cards and in August this year, we will be making sure that the people that register are legitimate farmers,” he informed.
The Deputy RADA Parish Manager further cited a number of training initiatives, which have taken place and have resulted in a marked increase in the number of hectares under cultivation.
“We implemented a number of projects for domestic food crops. We assisted 18 farmers to establish 4.6 hectares of crop,” he told the meeting, noting that 884 farmers were also assisted with livestock, crop inputs, among other things, through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
As it relates to initiatives for the 2009/10 period, Mr. Harris informed that planting would continue under the Production and Productivity Project, which was implemented in November 2008 to reduce the importation of certain crops.
“We planted 40 hectares of Irish potatoes, which was meant as an import substitution, as 80 per cent of the Irish potatoes that we use is imported, so we are trying to put a dent in that importation. We made 30 hectares of carrots and we are going to establish some hot peppers also, but that will be done in the second phase of the project,” he reported.
He informed further that a tractor service, which would enable farmers to till their fields at a cheaper rate, would be coming on stream shortly and a new fertiliser subsidy project was being considered. Farmers are also slated to benefit from the services of a marketing officer, who will assist them in selling their produce.

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