Agriculture Minister Hails St. James Farmers

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, addresses the opening ceremony for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority(RADA) St. James Open Day and 25th Anniversary celebrations, at the RADA offices in Catherine Hall on October 30, under the theme: ‘RADA … Revolutionizing Agriculture’.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has praised the over 8,000 farmers of St. James for their resilience in the face of severe drought conditions.
  • He said that St. James contributed to the country achieving over 93 per cent of the domestic crop production target in 2014.
  • The Agriculture Minister also hailed the farmers for their continued collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment in the hosting of agro-tourism farmers markets.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has praised the over 8,000 farmers of St. James for their resilience in the face of severe drought conditions.

He said that St. James contributed to the country achieving over 93 per cent of the domestic crop production target in 2014.

“It is said that the brave may fall, but never yield and indeed, your unyielding spirit has caused you to work long and hard. This has led to the achievement of some 1, 777.27 hectares of domestic food crop production for crop year 2014, thus recording 93.54 per cent of the 1,900 hectare target set.  This achievement is noteworthy, given the drought conditions faced during the period,” Minister Kellier said.

He was delivering the keynote address at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) St. James Open Day and 25th Anniversary celebrations at the agency’s offices in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, on Friday (October 30).

Activities for the day, which included a farmers’ market and booth displays, were carried out under the theme: “RADA at 25 … Revolutionizing Agriculture”.

Minister Kelllier said he was impressed with the wide variety and high quality of produce on display, which he said “is an indication of (the farmers’) continued commitment to increased production and productivity, as well as diversification of the crops you produce.”

Production of 481 hectares of bananas and 202 hectares of plantain is now underway in the parish.

The Agriculture Minister also hailed the farmers for their continued collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment in the hosting of agro-tourism farmers markets.

“I am told that during the last fiscal year, some seven such markets were held and that resulted in the sale of 36,750 kilograms of produce, valued at some $8.861 million. We must grasp the prospect for more hotel rooms and more visitors as an opportunity for a booming agricultural sector, especially here in St. James,” Minister Kellier said.

He also urged them to continue to make use of greenhouse technology to boost production.

He noted that 3,000 square feet of greenhouse nurseries have been established at RADA’s St. James location, through assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which produce vegetable and other seedlings at competitive prices for the farming community.

“During the last fiscal year, some 167,875 seedlings have been produced, generating an income of over $2.518 million.  Another 3,000 square feet of greenhouse space that is operated by farmers in Mafoota, also produces sweet peppers for the Sandals Hotels,” he noted.

The Minister presented a number of farmers with trophies and other awards for their outstanding contribution to the agriculture sector.

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