JIS News

State Minister for Agriculture, Errol Ennis has charged farmers to develop practices that would engender social and economic development instead of continuing with methodologies that were no longer relevant.
“If it (farming) is not going to become a serious economic player, then we have no right to be investing in the long-term engagement in that activity,” he stated.
Mr. Ennis was speaking at a function held yesterday (Feb. 27) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, to highlight innovation in farming. The function featured the innovations and experiments by 11 Jamaican farmers, which emerged from a case study conducted by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
The Agriculture State Minister further encouraged closer collaboration between farmers, researchers and technical personnel to enable the sector to benefit from the wealth of knowledge that was available.
He cited the Indian agricultural experience as one example of the successful merging of traditional methods with technology. “What they discovered was that there was the lack of communication between researchers and the technicians and the farmers and they had to go back and redesign the technological advancement to suit the farmers, so that they could implement new innovations,” he explained.
The result, he said, was that India had been transformed into the world’s largest producer of agricultural products, by utilizing semi-traditional farming techniques with the appropriate injection of technology.
“The Indian example is one that we should copy.the recognition that innovations can provide two-way benefits between the scientists, technologists and the farmers, is indeed something that we are bound to benefit from, to give the impetus to increase the earning capacity of the farmer,” Mr. Ennis told the gathering.
CARDI Country Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Francis Asiedu, explained that the case study was undertaken against the background of a CTA-funded research project on the agriculture, science and technology innovation (ASTI) system in selected African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in 2004, which revealed a gap in the linking of major players within the sector.
CTA has a mandate of bridging this gap by building partnerships to strengthen the scientists/farmer linkages and the capacity of ACP countries in identifying and analyzing farmer innovations and experimentation.
Workshops and case studies on farmer innovations were conducted in East Africa, and Jamaica was selected as the first Caribbean island to be engaged in this activity.
The study was done with a view to enhance the science and technology and innovation policy dialogue in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. It sought to identify and analyze farmers’ innovations and build partnerships to: strengthen the ASTI system in Jamaica; improve the interface between scientists/researchers and farmers and between them and other actors in the ASTI system, through the improvement of information exchange and knowledge sharing.
To this end, a five-day workshop was conducted by CTA in July last year, Dr. Asiedu informed, involving representatives of various agricultural organizations. The aim of the workshop was to introduce and clarify the concept of farmer experimentation and innovation while highlighting the benefits of a closer relationship between farmers and researchers. It also encouraged individuals to take a more critical view of policy issues in the field of research and experimentation.
During the workshop, a questionnaire previously used by the workshop consultants in Africa and the Pacific to identify farmer innovators, was revised to capture similar critical information in Jamaica.
Each workshop participant submitted the names, with a brief description of no less than two farmers, whom they felt could be identified as being innovative. The names and descriptions were collated and a short list of some 11 farmers was made. The participants organised themselves into groups of at least three individuals and went into the field to interview most of the short listed farmers and gather other pertinent information about the innovations.

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