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JIS News

The capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands to assist farmers in Pest Management in the field has been further strengthened as a total of 55 field officers attached to the Ministry’s Agricultural Support Service’s Project (ASSP) recently completed a one-week intensive upgrading training programme in Field Pest Identification and Recognition.
The training was carried out as part of the Agricultural Health and Food safety component of the ASSP, Technical Officer in the Ministry, Marsha Norman told JIS News. She said the training, conducted by local experts, was carried out in two phases with the first running from May 8 to 12 where 25 officers received training at a cost of more than $1.4 million.
Participants were drafted from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Plant Quarantine Produce Inspection Unit, and the Research and Development Division.
One of the aims of the ASSP is to strengthen the capabilities of the officer corps of the Ministry of Agriculture. Mrs. Norman explains that training was important as efficiency in this area had an impact on not only on the earnings of farmers locally and through export but also on the foods the nation consumes. “So when we train field officers it’s with the ultimate objective of improving the livelihood of farmers,” she noted.
During the second phase of the programme, which ran from November 20 to 24, thirty officers received training. “The major aim of this training intervention was to ensure that the field staff of the Ministry is familiar with the pests that impact on agricultural produce in Jamaica, and increase their hands-on knowledge and skills base on exotic pest detection and integrated pest management information,” she said.
Mrs Norman further explained that although field officers were already aware of these pests the training was a refresher and so they were now better able to help farmers producing field crops such as vegetables, yams, bananas and other ground produce.
She pointed out that this training would ultimately result in better service to the farmer and better produce to the consumer. “The number of staff did not increase as a result of the training programme.
However the capability of the field officers from RADA and the Ministry definitely has been enhanced,” she said.