JIS News

State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Errol Ennis has urged St. Thomas farmers to register their activities under the Agri-business Information System (ABIS).
Explaining the benefits of ABIS, Mr. Ennis said it would provide details of what the farmers were planting, where they were planting, the quantities and types of crops to be harvested, the farmers who were planting similar crops, and who were in need of these crops.
An Internet programme being developed by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), ABIS is designed to help farmers better produce and market their crops.
Addressing a meeting of farmers at the Anglican Church Hall in Morant Bay, yesterday (October 7), Mr. Ennis brought them up-to-date on the hurricane relief programme and how it would be implemented.
He told them that the information they provided would not be used for tax purposes. “No tax business is in it. The business is to know. If you don’t have knowledge, you cannot plan properly, and if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” he told the large gathering of farmers.
Emphasising the need for the information, the State Minister said that if RADA knew of the farmers’ activities, then it would have been easier to estimate the damage to crops in the parish. “The accurate knowledge is being hampered by the lack of registration,” he said, noting that the passage of Hurricane Ivan had delayed the registration process in the parish.
Mr. Ennis encouraged farmers to help in the reforestation process by planting fruit and other trees on their farms. “Plant fruit trees, cedar or mahogany,” he advised.
The State Minister suggested that the farmers plant June plum trees, as June plum concentrate was currently needed by juice processors who have been importing from overseas, because farmers were not producing enough of the crop. He also called on the farmers to diversify their agriculture, by planting other tree crops, such as otaheite apple, guava, cherry and cashew.
On another matter, Mr. Ennis proposed the setting up of a national disaster reconstruction fund, so that persons could benefit in the event of a disaster. “It is time this country understand that we are subject to disasters and we must prepare for them,” he stressed.

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