JIS News

A multi-million dollar Centre of Excellence in applied research and training in advanced agricultural technology, is to be established at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine.
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton said there have been discussions with the Spanish Agency for International Development to fund the facility that would be a CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Centre of Excellence.
“It is part of the thrust to support technology-based agriculture to boost productivity levels. It’s going to focus on things like the training of extension officers, so we can offer technical services to farmers; best planting practices; the development of orchards; greenhouse technology; and disease prevention. It is aimed at increasing reliability, consistency and productivity,” Mr. Tufton said. The Minister, who was in the United Kingdom attending a conference, also told JIS News that 12 agricultural extension officers from Jamaica would be going to Costa Rica in April for training in greenhouse technology. Dr. Tufton said this was part of the technical co-operation agreement he signed last week in Costa Rica with the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA). He said those trained in Costa Rica would in turn share the knowledge gained with local farmers.
“We want this to be an annual programme and wherever the best practices are in the 34 IICA member states, we can send a team from Jamaica to expose members to the best practices that will benefit our farmers,” the Minister said. He added that IICA would be conducting a study for Jamaica, looking at the true contribution of the agricultural sector to the country’s economy.
The Minister, who had made official visits to both Costa Rica and Spain, said that an agreement had been reached with technical experts in Spain, who will be assisting Jamaica in the construction of greenhouse clusters. Dr. Tufton also met with the owners and senior personnel of the four major Spanish hotel chains in Jamaica. He said some of the Spanish hoteliers were considering getting directly involved in greenhouse farming as a means of establishing a direct link between their hotel operations and the supply of fruits and vegetables to their properties. “We are encouraged that all of these investors are very willing to engage in backward linkages that will help to secure markets for our farmers,” he said.

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