JIS News

Regional Branch Manager for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) Manchester branch, Neville Burrell, has blamed the glut of tomatoes on the market on over planting by some farmers.
According to Mr. Burrell, during the hurricane relief effort, a lot of fertilizer and seeds were distributed to farmers, with tomato seeds issued in excess. He informed that the farmers, a number of whom are disorganized, went ahead and planted all the seeds without first consulting the agency.
“You cannot guarantee that the farmers who were given seeds will plant them all at a particular time and there was no data to tell us the amount of tomato that was out there. it is a little difficult to say what is out there in the field,” he pointed out.
He noted further that farmers face difficulty marketing their produce as they “do not come to training or meetings on a regular basis” and they “don’t know that these markets exist from time to time.”
Reports that some $3 million worth of table tomatoes are being imported into the parish on a monthly basis, he said, have also severely affected the farmer’s ability to sell their produce.
Mr. Burrell said that RADA has been assisting in the process and has already helped farmers in Cross Keys, Cocoa Walk and other areas to sell some 20,000 pounds of tomatoes to higglers and processors. He noted that assistance will be continued in the coming weeks.
Turning to the drought conditions that are now affecting South Manchester, the Regional Branch Manager said that although the problem has not hit crisis proportions, it has the potential of getting to that level.
He noted that conservation measures have been employed, including the trucking of water to the affected areas and the Government has also been issuing storage tanks to farmers.
On the matter of irrigation, he disclosed that only a small number of farms have been outfitted with this facility.
Turning to the potential of bush fires as a result of the drought and the implication for crops, Mr. Burrell revealed that the authorities are now more vigilant and have sought to educate farmers about lighting fires to clear their fields.

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