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Story Highlights

  • A new sorrel harvesting machine, which could significantly boost local production, was unveiled at the RADA offices.
  • The machine was developed by St. Elizabeth farmers and entrepreneurs, Oral and Allison Turner.
  • It is designed to, among other things, increase the volume of sorrel harvested, while reducing the time and manpower needed to do so.

A new sorrel harvesting machine, which could significantly boost local production, was unveiled at the offices of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hope Gardens, in St. Andrew, on November 12.

The machine, which was developed by St. Elizabeth farmers and entrepreneurs, Oral and Allison Turner, is designed to, among other things, increase the volume of sorrel harvested, while reducing the time and manpower needed to do so.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, who was among the persons witnessing the unveiling of the prototype, endorsed it as a welcomed innovation, capable of revolutionizing and enhancing the sorrel sub-sector.

“I am pleased to see this. A machine like this (once) properly put in place and running efficiently…will enable us to get the volume of sorrel that we need,” he said.

Noting that the sorrel industry’s potential is “enormous”, Mr. Clarke said maximum outputs can only be achieved if technology is incorporated into the harvesting process.

“We have been working to see how (best) we can develop the industry,” the Minister noted, citing a plant that was recently commissioned into service in Westmoreland.

He commended the Turners for their determination to improve on the machine’s initial design, which the Minister said was “impressive”.

“You could see the entrepreneurial spirit exuding from them.  I told them that the Ministry and I would be there with (them) all along the way,” the Minister said.

“The step that you have taken, you have to be congratulated. And I want to say to you that RADA is there to support you, and the Ministry of Agriculture stands ready to give whatever support that we can to make sure that this venture succeeds,” Mr. Clarke added.

Meanwhile, Senior Director for RADA’s Technology, Training and Technical Services Division, Marina Young, said the agency has been working closely with the Turners to provide the necessary linkages that can best facilitate the machine’s advancement to the stage where it can be fully streamlined for commercial use.

“It is very important for RADA that sorrel production consistently increases, because it is a tremendous crop. However, there are a lot of constraints in terms of the cost of production, especially labour, which is required to (harvest) sorrel. If we are to look at the production of sorrel in commercial quantities and to increase the volume, not only for local consumption, but for export, there is no way we can handle it (harvesting) by manual labour,” she noted.

In this regard, Mrs. Young said RADA is anticipating that the Turners will be successful in efforts to introduce their innovation into the industry.

For his part, RADA’s Chief Executive Officer, Lenworth Fulton, described the machine’s development as “one other step in the right direction in agriculture.”

“It is one step further up the value chain; one step in making our agriculture more efficient;  and one step in getting more farmers involved and getting more for their (dollar), by using technology to drive the sector,” he said.