JIS News

The capabilities of the agricultural sector, as it relates to the services provided to the nation’s farmers, have been boosted with the deployment of 20 Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), extension officers.
Addressing the news conference at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston today (October 15), to announce the recruitment of the new personnel, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that this deployment represents a 30 per cent increase in extension officers and symbolises the first stage of a process to double the extension services offered in the island.
He pointed out that over the next six months, the Ministry, with the assistance of RADA and the Veterinary Services Division, will be recruiting an additional 40 extension officers.
“These will include a marketing officer to assist farmers with market information, an animal health technician to support farmers with better animal husbandry practices and a business development officer, to support farmers in better business modelling,” he said.
The Minister added that all the extension officers will be trained in their respective areas of expertise, in an effort to ensure that the nation’s farmers are getting the best advice and support in the field.
Dr. Tufton further noted that over the next month, all extension officers will be required to wear a standardised uniform, which will include a branded shirt.
Additionally, the officers will be equipped with an extension kit consisting of over 25 pieces of equipment. This, he adds, will allow the officers to undertake their required tasks.
“Armed with these kits, extension officers will be able to protect themselves during their daily work and offer the best services to farmers, to check soils, plants and animals on the spot or collect samples for lab testing,” he disclosed.
He implored the officers to be the catalyst of a new culture of providing technical support to the farming community, adding that “agriculture can be viable and it could be a business and a good business…and a lot is expected of you.”
In an effort to further ensure that the farmers and the sector are more efficient, Dr. Tufton announced that “on the 21st of this month a shipment of fertiliser will arrive in Jamaica, approximately 2,500 tonnes…which will provide further relief to farmers, as was committed by us.”
He added that negotiations are in the pipeline for additional shipments over time. “What we hope to see will be a 15 to 30 per cent cheaper price on fertiliser and again that is keeping with support to the farmers,” he said.