JIS News

Zonal Director for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Trevor Martin, has said that Jamaicans should be seeing more locally grown agricultural products on supermarket shelves across the island by the time the Christmas holidays arrive.
He was speaking to JIS News during a tour of the parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth, which was organised by Agrograce and the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR) recently.
“As you will have observed many farmers have actually been actively replanting since Hurricane Ivan as is indicated by the many vegetable fields we have observed in the region. This tour enable us to also talk with the farmers who were affected by Hurricane Ivan and to see the resuscitation efforts,” he explained.
Mr. Martin indicated that he was also heartened by the encouraging words and actions of the farmers. “One of the main things that has come home to us is that the farmers are not waiting for government or any foreign agency to give them assistance to resuscitate their farms, they are going ahead, putting in their seeds, putting in their seedlings, getting their fertilizer and moving ahead at full speed.the farmers that we have visited are way ahead of the game and so the housewives will benefit tremendously come the yuletide season,” he said.
Farmer, Donald Wayne Elliot, who has more than eight acres under cultivation at Queensbury in St. Elizabeth agreed that things were returning to normal in the sector.
“Since the hurricane I have put in sweet pepper, plummy and salad tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, water melon, cantaloupe and honeydew.I want to say that round about Christmas you will see a big difference in the price for products as things will come back to normal,” he said.
Mr. Elliot noted that Jamaicans needed to acknowledge the importance of the agricultural sector in light of the price gouging that occurred following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan. “Now you see the importance of supporting our local industry and local farmers.ask yourself if government had not reduced the duty what would be the price today, so I say buy with your head and not only with your eyes, overseas things look pretty but are not of the same quality,” he noted.
In his remarks ONR Agricultural Specialist, Neville Condappa thanked Agrograce for organising the tour. “This shows what can happen when the private and public sectors come together, what I saw today brings tremendous relief to me as it show the resilience, faith an fortitude of the Jamaican farmer to bounce back from two successive hurricanes,” he said.
Mr. Condappa pointed out that since the passage of Hurricanes Charlie and Ivan, the ONR had distributed over $12 million worth of vouchers to farmers. “And I am pleased to say that I have spoken to farmers today who have benefited from this system which was implemented through RADA,” he said.

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