The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is assisting farmers to source alternative markets for surplus produce as part of its coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
Speaking with JIS News in a recent interview, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, attributed the surplus to the slowdown of the country’s tourism industry.
“A number of our farmers supply the hotel sector, and with the downturn in this sector, they now have an oversupply. We have tasked RADA to go out into the field to make connections between those farmers and new purchasers and new markets, and that is going well. We expect to continue that and ensure that they make it through this difficult time,” the State Minister said.
Mr. Green noted that in addition to supplying alternative markets, the surplus produce will also be redirected to areas where there is “real need”, among them children’s homes.
“We are encouraging our farmers, if you have excess produce, call RADA and we will see how we can take that produce and help,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of RADA, Peter Thompson, said a critical part of the Authority’s COVID-19 response is creating linkages between farmers and alternative markets.
“We are looking at the supermarkets, green groceries and, of course, other places like juice manufacturing facilities. We will be ensuring that the farmers get fair prices,” Mr. Thompson said.
He encouraged farmers to contact RADA’s parish offices for assistance with distributing the surplus.
Additionally, RADA marketing officers are being deployed to assess the level of production and crop varieties available among farmers.
For his part, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President, Lenworth Fulton, said farmers will be supplied with seeds, fertilisers and chemicals through the Ministry’s Production Incentive Programme.
The JAS President assured that there is sufficient food supplies for a minimum of three months.
“There is no need for any price gouging and panic among the farming population and consumers. All the range of foods – vegetables, ground provisions and meat – we can supply our country right through,” he said.
Mr. Fulton commended agricultural stakeholders for playing their part in protecting the nation during this time of crisis.
“Our farmers have stood up to various challenges, from hurricane to drought, and have bounced back. In this case, they will do it again,” he said.