Agricultural production in St. Ann rebounded in 2003, recording growth for three successive quarters, following a year, which saw low output in 2002.
Vivian Kildare, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Parish Manager, told JIS News that production declined by 27 per cent in 2002, resulting from seedlings and vegetable nurseries that were set back considerably by the May-June flood rains of 2002, as well as regular dry spells throughout the period.
“Some farm roads were badly damaged in the Seville and Spring Garden areas of the parish, which restricted agricultural activities in these high producing areas,” Mr. Kildare said.
He pointed out that during the first quarter of 2003, production increased when compared with the similar period in 2002, resulting in a 13 per cent increase, as production moved up to 10,804 tonnes from 9,508 tonnes in 2002.
Mr. Kildare said the second quarter in 2003, saw an even higher increase of 39 per cent, with production moving from 5,902 in 2002 to 8,225 in 2003, whereas for the third quarter, growth improved immensely, registering a 41.3 per cent increase, as production moved from 4,339 tonnes in 2002, to 6,132 tonnes last year.
He mentioned that there were significant contributions from pumpkins, where one farmer in the Walkerswood/Goshen area exported approximately 181, 440 kilograms (400 000 lbs) in 2003, and others in the Cave Valley area produced well over 90,720 kilograms (200 000 lbs).
The parish manager pointed out that large amounts of sweet potatoes were produced, with one farmer producing 27 kilograms (60,000 lbs), and plantains, yams and vegetables experienced high production in farming areas such as Douglas Castle, Coley, Endeavour, Cascade, Frank Hall, Colonels Ridge, Blackstonedge, and Barnstaple.
Mr. Kildare reported that “farmers are now expanding in cassava due to the outlet at Twickenham Park in St. Catherine; ginger, due to the facility at the Ministry of Agriculture export division; and hot pepper, due to the market at Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, in St. Ann”.
He said farmers were also producing more irish potatoes, pointing out that a total of 12 hectares were currently growing in the parish.
“Because of the continuous rainfall from August to December, 2003, farmers have been gradually increasing their crop establishment due to the good rainfall pattern, hence the production for the fourth quarter is expected to increase exponentially,” Mr. Kildare said.