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JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture has reported that approximately $80 million has been invested in reviving domestic crops.
Speaking with JIS News, Errol Cameron, National Co-ordinator for the Domestic Food Crop and Marketing Project, which was established in 1998, said that to date the Government has invested just under $80 million to assist in revamping a number of domestic crops that were experiencing significant decline.
Mr. Cameron informed that under the project, 3,000 farmers in 10 parishes have benefited and they have planted more than 2,400 hectares of crops.
The crops include coco, plantains, sweet corn, yellow yam, sweet potato, dasheen, escallion, broccoli and lettuce.
Notwithstanding this, he said that more was still to be done, as the Ministry’s target was to put at least 3,600 hectares of land into production.
The Ministry of Agriculture, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), embarked on the project because of the significant decline in production of the crops, which were in high demand.
“This project started as a result of the fall off in domestic crop production.while at the same time there was an increase in demand from both exporters and hoteliers for these items. The Ministry thought it wise to embark on a project to boost the production capacity of the farmers,” Mr. Cameron noted.
In this regard, he said that RADA implemented a number of strategies to assist the farmers. These included providing over 100 irrigation systems in order to ensure a consistent water supply for the crops, exposing farmers to better farming practices, training them in areas such as crop management, soil agronomy and in methods of identifying and treating pests and diseases.
Mr. Cameron said the project also allowed farmers to become more cognizant of the fact that farming was like any other business, and must be regarded as such to be successful.
As a result, he said that apart from increasing productivity, farmers were also exposed to various marketing strategies, which they were required to utilize.
With respect to the project’s achievements, Mr. Cameron noted that it had met its objectives to a great extent. “I won’t say that we’re able to meet all the demands…but some of the demands have been better met. For instance, our pepper production has increased dramatically, and we have seen an increase in the production of sweet potato, dasheen, and red coco,” he pointed out.
Farmers who wish to become involved in the project should contact their RADA parish office or the extension officer for their area.