Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says he is encouraged by the progress made by farmers participating in the Top Mountain Protected Agriculture project in North East St. Catherine.
His comment followed visits to the project sites on Thursday (September 9), accompanied Member of Parliament, Gregory Mair, and other Ministry officials and technocrats, to view the work which has taken place since the launch in June.
Initiated by Mr. Mair, the project entails assistance, in the form of greenhouse technology application and the attendant training, among other provisions, being extended to four farmers who were selected to participate in an effort to maximize their crop yields. The farmers are currently cultivating, primarily, tomatoes and sweet/bell peppers. .
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, displays some of the tomatoes reaped from one of the Top Mountain Protected Agriculture Cluster and Training Centre project in St. Catherine, during a tour of the project on Thursday (September 9).
The project saw four greenhouses being constructed by the Christiana Potato Growers Association in the Pear Tree Grove and Top Mountain communities. It is being funded at a cost of $6 million from Mr. Mair’s Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and is being implemented by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
Speaking with JIS News, following the tour, Dr. Tufton said the progress made by the farmers has seen them reach the point where “they can start reaping their tomatoes and bell peppers”.
“It’s encouraging. The fact is that this area is unaccustomed to this type of technology-driven agriculture…they are more accustomed to the traditional open field agriculture. So, in a sense, it’s a catalyst for change, and it’s the type of change the government would like to support and promote,” the Minister said
He pointed out that there are challenges which they will have to overcome in the process, but expressed the hope that the end results will be positive.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), offers advice to tomato farmer, Erica Ferron (centre), of Top Mountain, St. Catherine, during a visit to her greenhouse cultivation which forms part of the Top Mountain Protected Agriculture Cluster and Training Centre project in St. Catherine on Thursday (September 9). Looking on is Member of Parliament for North East St. Catherine, where the project site is located, Gregory Mair. The project is being funded at a cost of $6 million from Mr. Mair’s Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
The project was conceptualized 18 months ago, and Mr. Mair told JIS News that he was encouraged by the farmers’ progress.
“I am extremely grateful for the support from the government, and our farmers are extremely encouraged and excited about what is happening, and I am looking forward for other farmers to be encouraged to come on board (and participate) in this 21st century technology,” Mr. Mair said.
One of the beneficiaries, Erica Ferron, told JIS News that she was introduced to the greenhouse technology by a friend. She said she was enthusiastic about what she saw, and decided to stick with the greenhouse technology. She also expressed her gratitude to RADA for assisting in sourcing markets for her crop.