JIS News

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), through its fruit tree crop project, has assisted more than 500 farmers in planting 1,328 hectares of fruit trees, which among other things, has helped to provide employment for many persons in rural communities.
Project Coordinator, Locksley Waites, told JIS News that the project, which was established in 2000, is aimed at planting 1,700 hectares of 14 designated fruit trees on private and public lands, to provide raw material for the manufacturing of fruit-based products, as well as the provision of fresh fruits for research and export. “The whole idea behind this project is that if you have more people planting fruit trees in orchards, you provide employment for the younger people and once the fruits are harvested, you might have investors setting up cottage industries for the processing of these fruits, which will again create more employment,” he explained.
Among the fruit trees that have been planted under the project are: ackee, avocado, breadfruit, cashew, guava, guinep, jack fruit, june plum, mango, otaheite apple, naseberry, sour sop, custard apple and sweetsop. According to the Project Coordinator, the project has been well received by farmers but one of the main challenges for them is acquiring the start up capital that is required by RADA, to be a part of the programme.
“Another challenge is the unreliable or unpredictable rainfall in some areas and lack of irrigation water for the fruit trees. A lot of farmers, who show interest, also do not own land,” he informed further. In order to qualify for the programme, a farmer must have extended land tenure. Seedlings, technical advice and fertilizer are provided free of cost by RADA.