Agriculture Minister sees need for Ongoing Training for Green House Farmers


Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has suggested that farmers in the greenhouse sub-sector become engaged in periodic training, in order to minimize operational risks.
“We have to ensure that the training and developmental programme is ongoing, and I want to see workshops taking place where the farmers are brought together, where discussions take place on the various aspects of greenhouse production, and the trainers are similarly trained to provide ongoing support,” Dr. Tufton said.
He was speaking to members of the Greenhouse Growers Association, at a meeting on Friday (July 30) at the Cecil Charlton Hall, Mandeville.
Dr. Tufton told his audience that one of the first things that he did to obtain grant funding for the greenhouse sector, was to approach the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and they and the Spanish Government have given much support to build and sustain the industry.
He said that the greenhouses being constructed under the CIDA programme have specifications to be able to withstand things like 180 kilometre per hour wind, and to be able to be dismantled easy, in the case of hurricanes.
“Before every hurricane season, we must provide an outlet where greenhouse farmers come together, where we give them appropriate levels of training in hurricane disaster management,” he stated.
The minister outlined that part of the support coming from the Greenhouse Unit in his ministry, headed by Opal White, is in the area of training and disaster mitigation, which will enable the farmers to be sound for banking and insurance arrangements.
“We are hoping to establish a code, supported by your association, so that all future greenhouses abide by that code to minimize risks. It is important, because it is a profile of your risk that is going to determine your appropriate access to financing, as well as insurance,” he stated.
There is approximately 145 greenhouse farmers islandwide, with the main producers located in Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine, St. Ann and St. Mary. Greenhouse production has been increasing over the years and, in 2009, over 485 tonnes of vegetables were produced by greenhouse growers

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