The Full Story
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., on Wednesday (March 15) toured farms in St. Elizabeth to examine how farmers are using various techniques to preserve and grow their crops, despite the drought.
Mr. Charles Jr. toured farms in the areas of Nain, Junction, Top Hill, Malvern, Flagaman, among others.
Speaking to journalists during the tour, the Minister noted that the sustainable cycle was at work on the farms visited and lauded the farmers for the strategies they have been employing in the parish.
“Grow Smart is in action, where there is the connectivity between water harvesting, capturing in the micro dams and leading to targeted drip irrigation which allows for [farmers] to have prolonged productivity, even through the prolonged drought,” he noted, citing the Ministry’s ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’ campaign.
Launched last year, the campaign aims to strengthen food security, drive resilience and sustainability, and improve efficiencies within the agricultural sector.
“It’s critical for us to see what we are seeing here. It shows that Jamaica is not just talking about it, but we are doing it,” the Minister said.
He underscored the importance of the tour, noting it provided an opportunity to look into some of the areas severely affected by the drought, “but more importantly, seeing the solutions that our Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) team is already implementing, because it is through RADA that we have had the provision of pond liners [and] provision of seeds”.
Mr. Charles Jr. encouraged farmers to “continue to reach out to us” and assured that the Ministry will be providing continued support, through its drought mitigation programme, “to provide more funds, more drip irrigation and, ultimately, Jamaica is moving to long-term investments in irrigation systems”.
Touring the farms with the Minister were State Minister in the Ministry and Member of Parliament for St. Elizabeth South Eastern, Hon. Franklin Witter; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dermon Spence and representatives from RADA and the National Irrigation Commission (NIC).