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JIS News

Fifty Six St. Thomas residents and groups were presented with certificates for their contribution to agriculture, at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Open Day, held on June 27 at the RADA parish office in Belfast.
The awardees were selected from the Morant Bay, Yallahs, Bath and Trinity Ville extension areas in the parish.
Those copping the Champion Farmer Award were: Leslie Anderson and Robert Hall (Morant Bay); Albert Smith and Donald Walker (Yallahs); Headley Richardson, Omar Bailey and Sherman Francis (Bath); and Horace Mullings, Emancia Perry, Ethlyn Francis Downie and Fabian Downer (Trinity Ville). In the Champion Farmers Group category, awards were presented to the Leith Hall, Albion Mountain and Hayfield Farmers Groups and the Trinity Ville Area Development Committee (ADC).
Exhibits were also displayed by various groups, including the RADA Social Services Home Economics Unit, the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association, the Consumer Affairs Commission and Johnson’s Organic Fertiliser. Also on show were miniature cakes, biscuits, jams, jellies, juices and wines made from fruits and vegetables grown in the parish.
In his address at the function, Executive Director of RADA, Al Powell, congratulated the awardees for the effort they have been making in agricultural production.
He encouraged them to continue to build the sector. “If we don’t continue to expand agriculture, then we are going to be in serious trouble in the coming years,” he said, citing the increasing food prices.
Deputy Parish Manager for RADA, Peter Thompson told JIS News that the event was held to showcase some of the products and services offered in the parish. He said RADA was trying to transform locally grown fruits and vegetables into value-added products, which could be marketed throughout the year.
“We hope the persons who visit the expo could see that there is an opportunity for these products to go beyond cottage industry,” he said.
Mr. Thompson revealed plans to set up a small processing factory at the RADA office to produce tamarind sauce. “We are trying to see how we can comercialise this product,” he added.
He pointed out that the main constraint was the inadequate supply of raw material. However, he said RADA would be promoting the growing of tamarind under the Fruit Tree Crop Programme to sustain the product.
“The products we have on display, they are awesome. We just need to capitalize on the products that we have. We have the European Union, which is operating in the parish. People can submit project proposals together to get funding to improve on what they are doing,” Mr. Thompson said.