JIS News

Chairman of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) Parish Advisory Board for St. Andrew, Gassan Azan, says that the organisation has been working to assist the farmers to boost their productivity levels.
“Over the years, we have increased the extension officers in the parish… so that the farmers themselves will benefit more from the visitation of the extension officers. We now have 14 extension officers in the parish,” Mr. Azan informed, as he addressed a Farmers’ Appreciation Day held on Friday (Sept. 24) at the board’s headquarters on Old Hope Road.
In addition to the extension officers, who provide technical support services to farmers, Mr. Azan said that new posts have also been established, including those of urban extension officers, land husbandry officers, livestock and marketing officers.
The land husbandry officer, he said, plays an important role in ensuring the preservation and sustainability of farm lands, particularly during periods of heavy rain.
“One of his duties, along with the other extensions officers, is to identify all the unused arable lands that are available so that we can put them into cultivation to really boost the agricultural produce,” he added.
Additionally, there are now 32 Production and Marketing Organisations (PMOs) in Kingston and St. Andrew that also aid farmers, Mr. Azan informed.
PMOs are community-based organisations, which facilitate ease of access of farmers to vital information and support related to best farming practices and market sources.
The Chairman noted that RADA is very important to the farmers, because they are able to access training, information, and with the assistance of the extension officers, they are able to grow the crops that are suitable for their area.
“We at RADA are trying our best to assist the older farmers as well as the younger farmers who are coming into the system,” he said, adding that he was pleased that the farmers are utilising the services offered by RADA.
He further commended the farmers for remaining devoted and steadfast to their profession, despite the challenges of working the hilly St. Andrew terrain, among other things.
“They should be commended for the fine job that they are doing because ploughing the land is not an easy job…most of it has to be done manually,” he noted.
Parish Agricultural Manager RADA St. Andrew, Victor Edwards, for his part, emphasised that agriculture must be given the priority it requires, stressing that “agriculture is our future; without food we can’t survive.”
The Farmers’ Appreciation Day was part of activities to mark RADA’s 20th anniversary.
The day featured presentations on home economics, backyard gardening, pest management, marketing opportunities; videos and displays highlighting good agricultural practices, seedling production; and exhibits of agricultural tools, among other things.
RADA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It is the island’s chief agricultural extension and rural development agency.

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