- The St. Elizabeth branch of the RADA, is assisting farmers to take advantage of the value-added market.
- RADA’s efforts have been receiving tremendous support from women in St. Elizabeth, who are now doing a thriving business in fruit juice, jam and liquor manufacturing.
- Products manufactured by residents of the parish are sold on the local market or to major corporations across the island.
The St. Elizabeth branch of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is assisting farmers to take advantage of the value-added market which is available in the parish and across the island, for agricultural products.
Deputy Parish Manager, Marvin Lawrence, tells JIS News that RADA’s efforts have been receiving tremendous support from women in St. Elizabeth, who are now doing a thriving business in fruit juice, jam and liquor manufacturing.
“We have been doing some amount of agro-processing training, especially among the women in the parish. These ladies are being trained on how to make the jams, juices and liquors as well as pastries. We have been working with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in staging weekly training days at the RADA St. Elizabeth offices, where persons are given guidance on how to make products and how to set up their own agro-processing and distribution business,” he explains.
“Through the support of JSIF, RADA has procured some equipment, which is made available to these residents on specific days for the processing of their products. We also have been working with a Food Technologist who gives technical support to the citizens,” Mr. Lawrence adds.
This is done through Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), which is a system that addresses food safety through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material. The farmers also receive help to meet other health standards.
“The idea behind the agro-processing project is to ensure that we take advantage of the value-added market…not only in times of oversupply, but to ensure that the people of St. Elizabeth are exposed to other aspects of the agricultural sub-sector. For too long the parish has been known as the bread basket parish of Jamaica. We want to move in a very decisive way into the manufacturing market, which is largely untapped in this area,” he tells JIS News.
Products manufactured by residents of the parish are sold on the local market or to major corporations across the island. A number of schools in St. Elizabeth have also been purchasing fruit juices for use in their school-feeding programme.
Mr. Lawrence points out that RADA extension officers have been working with the established processors as well as with the schools across the parish, to ensure that partnerships are established.
“Most of these schools have a Home Economics Department and we have been encouraging teachers to use the products which are grown in the parish for their practical demonstrations. This is a fantastic way for the farmers to address any glut which may occur,” he says.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lawrence notes that RADA St. Elizabeth has been moving to address the issue of communication with the parish’s 23,000 registered farmers.
“The parish’s 13 extension officers are busy in the fields, communicating with the farmers to ascertain what they are planting and establishing reaping schedules, in an effort to prepare markets for them. This is being done to ensure that proper guidance is given to the farmers on what to plant, how much to plant and the available markets for their products,” he explains.
“This has two main effects…it reduces the possibility of a glut, and in the event a glut, some markets would have been secured ahead of reaping time,” Mr. Lawrence adds.