JIS News

Some 30 small farmers in St. Ann have received fertiliser vouchers, valued at $2,000 each, from Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, as part of an initiative to deliver 12,000 vouchers to farmers, by December 19.
The latest delivery was made recently, when the Minister met with farmers in St Ann.
One of the recipients, Leslie Hutchinson, who has a two-acre farm in Bamboo, and has been farming for over 30 years, told JIS News that he had been unable to purchase fertiliser for over a year.
“I could not buy the expensive fertiliser, so I have not used commercial fertiliser for more than one year. I had to plant much less and use chicken manure, so I didn’t sell as much,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
Vennis Brown, who also received a voucher, said she could not buy the high priced fertiliser at $7,000 per bag. “This voucher can buy me two bags. I get twice as much for the same amount of money, so it is a big saving for me,” she said.
Minister Tufton, who addressed a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, pointed out that farmers have been realising savings of up to 50 per cent from the cheaper fertiliser, and that “extensive tests have proven this fertiliser to be as good as any other.”
He described the fertiliser initiative as part of a sustained effort by his Ministry to boost the agricultural sector, by supporting farmers and Jamaica’s capacity to feed its people. “Jamaica needs a strong agricultural sector and a cadre of farmers, in order to prosper,” he said.
Extension Officer at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Gary Dixon, who has responsibility for the Cave Valley area of St. Ann, said that only farmers who are registered with RADA would receive the vouchers. “Farmer registration,” he emphasised, “is a necessary pre-requisite for assistance.”
“Small farmers are spending about $42,000 less per acre on fertiliser. A cabbage farmer, for example, would use, on average, two 100 kilogram-bags per crop on a half acre plot. For cabbages, two crops are reaped each year, so he would need four bags for the year. At the regular price, that would cost him $28,000. At the cheaper price, the cost outlay for fertiliser would be $14,000. So, the farmer can earn more for himself,” he said, pointing out that the farmers are very happy for the lower fertiliser prices.
Chief Executive Officer of RADA, Al Powell, said that 12,000 fertiliser vouchers would be given out across the island, of which 8,000 had already been distributed. The remaining vouchers would be distributed through the RADA offices by December 19.

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