The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is seeking to better utilise the data gathered through the Geographical Information System (GIS) method, as a key strategy to further boost agricultural productivity.
To this end, a workshop was held at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in Kingston on August 21, where GIS stakeholders discussed the way forward.
The GIS is a computable structure, designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and display all types of geographically referenced information.
Addressing the workshop, Principal Director for Policy Co-ordination and Administration in the Ministry, Dwight Uylett, said the meeting was held to see how best to utilise the data on hand to inform policies and programmes.
“We have a lot of intellectual material as far as GIS is concerned and we also have a lot of intellectual capacity, and what we want to do, is to have a meaningful discussion on the best way forward," he said.
Mr. Uylett said the Ministry is seeking to take greater advantage of GIS material as it is committed to strengthening its agricultural supply chain, noting that one of the key components of this, is primary production. “We are looking for efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the outputs that we get from this area of the supply chain,” he pointed out.
He further noted that the Ministry’s Rural Physical Planning Division is a critical area in this endeavour. “In this regard, we have been doing a lot of work with the division and its leadership to strengthen the capacity to perform and strengthen its ability to deliver on key service imperatives,” he added.
The core functions of the division include: conducting soils and land cover/land use surveys; rural land evaluation assessments and make recommendations on the use of agricultural lands; and land capability assessments.
The division also assesses soil fertility and makes recommendations for soil and land management; designs and prepares maps; GIS data processing, manipulation, analysis and output; and captures spatial data through aerial photo-interpretation, satellite imagery and global positioning systems.
The workshop also sought to determine stakeholder needs and strengthen the capacity of the Rural Physical Planning Division to: respond and forge partnerships; utilise GIS as a decision support tool in expanding the food health and traceability infrastructure; pursue a deliberate export strategy; and to mainstream climate change adaptation to programmes, policies and production processes.