JIS News

Director of the Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon, Dermon Spence, has pledged his full support and that of the institution, to the promotion of protected agriculture technology (green house farming).
“Our contribution is solid. We are prepared to train persons to take on this new and exciting venture in addressing our ability to produce under varying conditions,” Mr. Spence said.
He was speaking at the official launch of the Modified Environment Training Programme, on the grounds of the academy, recently.
The programme has been instituted in response to the Government’s current mandate to transform the agricultural landscape to one of greater efficiency, in order to increase productivity within the sector. It involves the training of individuals in the successful implementation, use and management of protected agriculture technology.
Mr. Spence said that no effort should be spared to sufficiently prepare the people to deal with the factors which negatively impact the country’s food security.
“We have a cycle, which is well known, of ups and downs in our commodity supply and this does not augur well for food security and distribution, and to reduce cost fluctuation. The ability to feed itself is the single most important factor a country should have control over,” he stressed.
The Government, in recognition of the increased frequency of unfavourable weather conditions over the past five years, and the resulting implications for the country’s food security, is seeking to implement the measures necessary to effectively address the issue.
Chief among these is the promotion of protected agriculture technology, more commonly known as greenhouse farming.
Greenhouse farming is done under controlled conditions, in an area enclosed by plastic or other material. The covering provides protection against hail, wind, rain, sun and other environmental factors. Greater protection is also provided against pests, which are generally found in the soil.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has reported that farms with this technology can yield up to 10 times more than regular farming, even while less input is required.
Ebony Park HEART Academy is the main institution within the HEART Trust/NTA for agricultural training in Jamaica. It has approximately 500 acres of land, most of which are used for cultivation.
The Director said persons at the institution are excited by the prospects of new ventures, and are willing to collaborate with all stakeholders, in a move to ensure greater food security for the country.
He also informed that Ebony Park is in the process of setting up a $12 million facility, which would support research in pig production. Additionally, the facility is embarking on an agro-eco tourism project, which will facilitate trail riding and recreational fishing, among other things.

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