Thousands of Jamaican farmers are to be exposed to best practices in agricultural production and available marketing opportunities through the inaugural staging of the Production and Marketing Organisation (PMO) conference and exposition tomorrow (June 25) at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium.
The one-day event, which is the brainchild of Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, is being hosted by the Ministry and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) under the theme: ‘PMO-Farmers working together to feed the nation’.
More than 27,000 farmers are registered members of 826 PMOs across the island and about 4,000 of these farmers are expected to attend tomorrow’s event.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has been invited to deliver the keynote address during the opening ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m. A ‘One on One with the Minister’ is also planned to give farmers an opportunity to express their concerns or give suggestions to Dr. Tufton.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, delivers the keynote address at the launch of the Production and Marketing Organisation Conference and Exposition on June 24, at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The conference takes place on June 25, at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium.
At the launch today (June 24) at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road location, Chief Executive Officer of RADA, Al Powell, said that the conference and exposition will feature several seminars, workshops and demonstrations, as well as more than 80 display booths. Presentations are also to be made by experts in the sector on new technologies in crop and animal production, agricultural credit facilities, and the roles and functions of PMOs for successful operations.
The PMOs are community-based organisations which facilitate easy access by farmers to vital information and support, related to best practices and marketing. They comprise groups of farmers at the district level and are responsible for distributing farming inputs channelled through RADA.
Dr. Tufton, in explaining the rationale behind the setting up of PMOs, said that it has become increasingly challenging to provide individual service to farmers. “It is more cost effective, more efficient to organise farmers in groups, and service those groups as a routine, as opposed to servicing individual farmers,” he said.
In addition, the coming together of groups of farmers will ensure economies of scale. The Minister noted that while agriculture remained the largest employer in Jamaica, the size of farms has been shrinking over the years, with the average size of holdings about 1.4 hectares. “There are challenges associated with that. Firstly, it is increasingly challenging to get the economies of scale that one could get from larger production levels,” he pointed out.
As part of this organisational process, RADA, last year, registered about 24,000 new farmers. The 826 functioning PMOs were also registered last year.