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JIS News

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Hanover office has stepped up its production of plant seedlings to meet the needs of the approximately 6,000 registered farmers in the parish.

According to Western Zonal Director with RADA, Bernard Goffe, the aim is to maintain the consistent increase in domestic crop output recorded since 2006. Farmers produced 4,590 tons of food last year, representing a 32.1 per cent increase over the 3,474 tons produced in 2010.

Mr. Goffe said indications are that the growth will continue this year, and the two plant nurseries located on the RADA compound stand ready to provide the planting material.

"At present, we have scotch bonnet pepper, tomato, sweet pepper, hot red pepper, and cabbage. We also have some turmeric seedlings here and also some mini-set yams ready for the market," he told JIS News.

He said the seedlings are being sold at a discounted rate for prices ranging from $10 to $15.

The 50 feet by 30 feet plant nurseries each have capacity to hold some 60,000 plant seedlings at any one time, and Mr. Goffe said the amount of space available allows for the production of a wide variety of plant and vegetable seedlings.

The first nursery was established in 2005 through financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), while the second nursery, along with a preparation area, was established in 2009 with assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Mr. Goffe said the USAID has also given assistance towards establishing a solar powered irrigation system, which services both nurseries.

According to the RADA Director, the facilities have helped to increase crop production in the parish.

"In 2005, when this nursery was conceptualised, it was because we realised that the production in the parish was very low; and so we decided to start a small nursery in the back (of the premises).  When the plants were available to the farmers, we realised that in 2006, the production started to increase by approximately ten percent," he told JIS News.

He said since the intervention of the USAID, "the domestic food crop production has been increasing every year," with the highest production increase recorded in 2011.