To further increase the volume and value of Jamaica’s agricultural commodities that are marketed profitably and competitively, $66.5 million has been set aside in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure to advance these activities.
The initiative, which is being carried out by the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is expected to result in improved farm income, strengthened food security and expanded small scale rural enterprises.
Achievements under the Effective and Efficient Market Information System component, up to February 2012, include: grades and standards handbooks developed and distributed to traders, exporters, supermarket proprietors and the general public; 2,200 brochures promoting grades and standards for agricultural produce printed and distributed islandwide; and two new servers along with the requisite software acquired.
For the Strengthening Production, Processing and Marketing Linkages of Selected Value Chains component, a manual for Farmer Field School (FFS) was developed; 26 extension officers were trained in FFS methodology; and three refrigerated trucks were repaired and fitted with refrigerated units.
In addition, 68 farmers established 26 hectares of onions. Another 346 farmers established 117 hectares of Irish potatoes, and 13 hectares of hot peppers were established by 27 farmers.
For 2012/13, it is envisaged that crop varieties that are adaptable to increased summer heats will be introduced; and soil and water management structures and technologies (irrigation, rain water harvesting, mulching, land husbandry structures/infrastructure) will be implemented to reduce soil evaporation rates, augment soil water availability and reduce soil erosion caused by wind and water.
The project will also support soil and plant nutrition programmes to enhance nutrient availability that will build crop resilience against pest/disease and moisture stress. Support will also be given to Integrated Pest Management programmes to enhance the crop and farmers’ resilience to increased incidences of pest disease infestations that are due to climate change factors. Additionally, policy formulation and market diversification strategies will be supported to create an enabling environment to support Climate Change Adaptation.
Started in April 2010, the project is slated to end in March 2014.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter