JIS News

Domestic food crop production in Westmoreland is up fifty percent for the July-September 2009 quarter, when compared with the similar period in 2008.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has attributed the increased production in the parish to a number of factors, including: favourable weather conditions; deliberate production and productivity programmes pursued by the Ministry; and the Best Farming Practices seminars being held by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) for targeted farmers.
He made the disclosure during a visit to the 1100- acre Woodstock Farm in Westmoreland, on Friday (October 23).
“We still have some way to go. There are a lot of areas that we could do much better in, but I think between the better weather conditions and the deliberate attempts to engage the farmers to target specific crops have resulted in a positive expansion over the last four quarters,” Dr. Tufton explained.
He said that the initiatives have impacted on domestic food crop production in a positive way, nationally, resulting in improvements in production for the last four quarters at the national level.
He emphasised that the introduction of marketing and livestock officers to the RADA cadre of personnel, has definitely added value to the process.
“Here in Westmoreland, we have added six new officers over the past year and a half, including a livestock and a marketing officer”, he stated.
He explained that apart from co-ordinating the information flow between end-users, the agro-processors, the hotels, the retailers and the market place, the move has also created greater awareness or sensitivity to the needs of the market.
He added that with that information linked into the Ministry’s production and productivity programme, it has allowed the Ministry to give farmers more accurate information on what is required and when, which has improved the farmers’ chances of selling their produce.
“And so there is no doubt in my mind that the addition, or the emphasis on marketing, has added tremendous value to the effort to get our farmers to grow, and to sell what they have grown,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minister pointed to the need for improvement in the accuracy of the information being collected, the need for greater post harvest infrastructure as well as to provide better logistics management to get the produce to market.
He said that improvements in those areas would add to efficiency gains within the sector.

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