JIS News

An urban agricultural initiative, aimed at encouraging homeowners to grow more crops for consumption, is currently underway, with strong support from the Ministry of Agriculture.
This was disclosed by Chairman of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Dr. Omer Thomas, at a JIS ‘Think Tank,’ at the agency’s head office in Kingston on March 26.
Dr. Thomas explained that special emphasis would be placed on urban communities, such as Portmore and Kingston, and homeowners would be encouraged to utilize small spaces around the house, such as balconies, to grow food to be used as part of their daily diet.
“This initiative will allow individuals to grow [crops] in the limited spaces around the house in containers or on the balconies, which will replace the need for flowers,” he pointed out.
He said the initiative would, for the first time, encourage homeowners and persons who rent properties, “to contribute to either import substitution or our food security.”
The programme will be spearheaded by RADA and the Parish Boards, which were recently instituted by the organization. It will provide seedlings, organic fertilizers and insecticides to each homeowner interested in participating in the project.
“We are developing the extension package that can be given to householders, so that they can do what is required according to the instruction that comes with the material that is in the package,” Dr. Thomas explained.
Meanwhile, he informed that the National Disaster Response Mechanism for the agricultural sector, which was recently introduced by RADA, has so far been successful. This success, he said, was evident in the response time by the Ministry to the recent fires that affected farmers in parts of St. Elizabeth. “Within six days, we were in to assist the entire process,” he noted.
The mechanism is being used by the Ministry to garner firsthand information on where a problem exists in the sector, the extent of the crisis and farmers’ needs, in order to return them to some level of productivity.

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