JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that a massive registration of farmers would be undertaken in the next two weeks, as a means of addressing some of the deficiencies in the farming sector.
Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) at the Denbigh show ground in Clarendon recently, he pointed out that the registration of farmers is one of the critical steps in the Government’s move to transform the agricultural sector.
“If farmers are not registered, and do not exist in the Government’s data bank, they will not be in a position to access the assistance which the Government is seeking to make available to them,” the Minister informed.
The registration process will take place through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and electoral offices. In an effort to ensure that as many persons as possible are registered, extension officers will be sent out into the field.
The data gathered will be used to guide planning in the interest of the farmers, to mitigate against some of the problems which have traditionally plagued the sector, such as poor marketing practices and inadequate preparation for disasters.
Additionally, there will be a doubling of the number of extension offices from 60 to 120 in the next couple of months. The Minister said this is necessary, as the number of extension officers is not enough to deal with all the farmers who are in need of guidance.
Another measure to transform the sector will be the placement of a marketing officer at the RADA office in each parish. This officer is expected to provide farmers with critical information on what crops to plant, when and in what quantities. The marketing officer will also assist farmers in creating linkages with potential buyers. Personnel trained in animal husbandry will also work with farmers at the parish level.
The Minister further noted that a disaster management committee would be established, which would guide farmers as to the correct course of action to take to minimize damage to crops and livestock in the event of disasters, such as hurricanes and fires.
The Minister declared that a “new look” RADA, which is responsive to the needs of Jamaica’s small farmers, is going to require the input of all stakeholders.
“We have to help the farmers to grow things better. We have to improve what we do, so we can get more out of the same effort. That’s why the talk about greenhouse technology is not a joke,” Dr. Tufton stressed.
He pointed out that several measures are being put in place to offer fertilizer to farmers at a cost heavily subsidized by the Government.
“Agriculture is about ensuring that the small farmers of this country are protected, so they can take care of the rest of us,” he said.