The capabilities of the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St Catherine, have been bolstered with the provision of two Case IH Farmall tractors, valued approximately $15.6 million, by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, handed over the equipment to the Research and Development Division on Friday (June 24).
The Division undertakes problem-solving engagements that support varied testing and evaluations, and pest identification and management interventions suited for local conditions.
Mr. Charles noted that acquisition of the equipment is part of a drive to improve the Ministry’s research stations and should assist in replacing the aging tractor fleet at Bodles.
“A reliable tractor is essential for the efficient performance of research activities at Bodles. These tractors are designed and developed with high technology that guarantees effective performance. They are also easy to maintain, compared to others on the market,” the Minister stated.
The tractors will assist the Livestock Unit and Crop and Plant Protection Units in meeting a 150-acre target for pasture development under the Pasture Redevelopment Project and driving the production of haylage and silage, with expected yields of 14,000 tonnes per acre.
Additionally, they will be uutilised to pull farm implements and establish seed production plots for hot peppers, pumpkins, sorrel, and other crops.
“The use of the tractors will also assist the research team to meet the 150-pound seed target for hot peppers to result in approximately 970 hectares of hot peppers, giving a real boost to the Ministry’s Production and Productivity Programme agenda,” Mr. Charles indicated.
He emphasised the importance of instituting a structured maintenance and management regime for the equipment which, he said, is “paramount to achieve sustainability and increased efficiencies.”
Deputy Research Director at Bodles, Michelle Sherwood, welcomed the equipment and the widescale productivity boost anticipated.
“We take, very seriously, the charge that has been given to us in terms of being able to lead the research,” she said, adding that “this is just the beginning; together, we can move to another level.”
A total of $926 million has been spent between 2018 and 2022 under phase one of the Ministry’s transformation project.
The sum included expenditure on the rehabilitation and construction of new and improved facilities at Bodles, with phase two slated to entail build-out at other research stations.