JIS News

Come June 16, farmers across the island will be able to lease tractor services from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) as the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries moves to increase productivity in the agricultural sector.
The initiative, which comes under the Ministry’s Farm Modernisation Programme, will enable farmers to prepare their land for planting at affordable rates.
A total of 10 four-cylinder rubber wheel tractors were today (June 3) handed over to RADA for deployment to the parishes of St. Ann, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Catherine, St. Mary, Manchester, Westmoreland, Hanover, St. James, and Trelawny.
Speaking at the handing over held at Kingston Industrial Agencies (KIA) Limited on Spanish Town Road, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that farmers will benefit from the programme due to its affordability.
“We are guaranteeing that the cost to the farmers in using this tractor service will be no more than 80 per cent of the market value if they were to engage a private contractor. It therefore represents a subsidy, but we also have to balance the need for replacement costs,” he noted.
The 10 tractors, which cost some $30 million, will be operated by persons trained and certified in basic tractor operation and maintenance at the HEART/TRUST NTA.
“They are all individuals, who not only have experience in driving a tractor, but they have gone through some formal training in driving and managing a tractor because that is critical to ensuring sustainability,” Dr. Tufton pointed out.
He informed that the service will be supervised by a special committee based within the RADA branch offices island wide, adding that the equipment will be strictly supervised. “These tractors are not going to be allowed to park at anybody’s yard. These tractors are not going to drive a mile without some form of recording as to where they are going. Those in charge will be held accountable to ensure that every move they make, it is recorded and that there is some level of accountability,” the Minister stated.
He noted that the introduction of the tractors, is expected to increase productivity levels, and the Ministry is looking at other forms of mechanised tools such as seed planters and hand-held tractors to assist farmers in areas that are inaccessible by the larger units.
Chief Executive Officer at RADA, Al Powell, informed that farmers, who want to benefit from the service, should be registered.
He advised those who wish to access the service, to go to the RADA parish office, where they will be required to complete an application form, which clearly states the cost of the service and other specifications.
“We have a team that will go and see if the job was performed properly because we are trying to satisfy the farmers on one hand and ensuring that the drivers perform the duties that are required of them,” Mr. Powell stated.
He noted that the service will substantially drive agricultural production and productivity and should signal to the Jamaican farmers that the most tedious aspects of farm land preparation being addressed.
At a date to be announced, two 6-cylinder heavy duty tractors will be supplied to the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Clarendon.
For additional queries on the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ tractor service programme, farmers can contact their local RADA office or call the toll free number 1-888-429-5723.

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