JIS News

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its JAMAICA Farmers Access to Regional Markets (FARMS) 11 project, has extended support to the Government of Jamaica in revamping the farming sector, especially as it relates to the increased adoption of protected environment agriculture technology or greenhouse farming.
The JAMAICA FARMS project seeks to strengthen the Ministry of Agriculture’s capacity, to better address unsustainable agricultural practices across the island. The promotion of greenhouse technology and facilitation of appropriate technology transfer to the sub-sector, are two of the chief avenues through which the USAID hopes to achieve this objective.
At the recent launch of the protected agriculture training programme at the Ebony Park Heart Academy in Clarendon, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, informed that over the past 10 years, the production of many domestic crops have fallen, some by as much as 65 per cent. The promotion of greenhouse or protected agriculture technology, is also seen as one of the chief factors in addressing this decline.
“We must reverse this negative trend in our production. Protected agriculture technology is heralded as the way forward for Jamaica’s agriculture,” Dr. Tufton stated.
The increased incidence of unfavourable weather conditions over the past five years, and the potential negative effects of such conditions on the country’s food security, has lead to the need to shift to more technologically sound practices.
JAMAICA FARMS 11 will assist in strengthening the capacity of the Government by providing technical assistance and extension services to the agricultural sector.
A core component of this partnership is an integrated training programme, which introduces new greenhouse technologies to extension officers, while building their technical capacity. Local and international resources are also utilised to assist the Government in significantly increasing the cluster of greenhouses located close to markets. It expands on the JAMAICA FARMS 11 project, which introduced high tunnel house technology to farmers across the island, in a bid to boost their productive capacity.
The ultimate objective of the project is to preserve Jamaica’s natural resources, by lessening the negative impact of agriculture on the country’s biological resources.
Presently, the JAMAICA FARMS 11 project is being implemented in collaboration with the ALCOA Foundation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and HEART Trust/NTA.
Ruth Chisholm, Development Outreach & Communications Specialist with the USAID, said that the project “is one step closer to bringing the agricultural sector to the point where it can be a lucrative source of livelihood for the farmers of Jamaica.”
In the meantime, the Government of Jamaica has acknowledged the need to increase the support services that will appropriately address farmers’ changing needs, and those of the sector, generally.
Only recently, Dr. Tufton announced several initiatives to transform the agricultural sector, and increase the productivity of small farmers. These include the doubling of extension officers attached to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), to better serve the needs of small farmers.