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The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be enhancing extension support to farmers, by increasing the time officers spend out in the field.

“I want to see the extension officers out there in the field, working with the farmers on a daily and continuing basis,” said portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke.

He was addressing the graduation ceremony for over 30 participants in the Marketing and Agriculture for Jamaican Improved Competitiveness (MAJIC) Farmer Field School training programme, held on Wednesday (October 10) at the Bridge Palm Hotel in Clarendon.

He said that to facilitate the process, the travel arrangement for the extension officers will be revised. “Between now and the end of the financial year, we are going to move the (maximum) travelling that they get paid for up from 250 kilometers per month to 400 km per month,” he informed.

Minister Clarke said the increased interaction will provide greater support to onion farmers in St. Elizabeth, who have been battling the Beet Army Worm.

“We have had some difficulties with onions in St.  Elizabeth. We are working now with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (and) for the next planting season…we are going to be putting more extension officers in those areas to really be there with the farmers to hold their hands, because we can produce onions here and we are going to make sure that we produce it here. They must be there to work with the farmers…we must get it right,” he stated.

The MAJIC training programme, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was jointly implemented by the Agriculture Ministry and the Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA), a United States-based private, international development non-profit organisation.

The project activities were designed, in partnership with the Ministry, to assist Jamaica’s agricultural sector to become more market-driven, profitable, and competitive, contributing significantly to economic and social growth in rural communities.

The project pioneered the expanded use of the Farmer Field School (FFS) methodology to enhance farmer knowledge and best practice adoption in Jamaica, with emphasis on demonstrations in solving problems with the growing cycle of field crops. 

Wednesday’s graduation was the third and concluding leg of the project, which saw over 60 farmers graduating, having completed courses delivered by the ACDI/VOCA technical team over a period of 20 weeks.