RADA Hosts Best Practices Workshop for Tomato Farmers


The St. Andrew office of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) today (Dec. 1) hosted a production workshop for tomato farmers to expose them to agronomic practices that can enhance the growth potential of the crop.
Speaking to JIS News at the workshop, which was held at the Authority’s parish office on Old Hope Road, RADA Parish Agricultural Manager, David Williamson, explained that with RADA functioning as the technical arm of the Agriculture Ministry, “it is our responsibility to educate these farmer groups so they can get maximum production from whatever crops they grow.”
Mr. Williamson said the primary intent of the workshop was to highlight various agronomic practices of the tomato plant. He pointed out that the parish office had established a demonstration plot where tomatoes were grown under conditions to counteract the gemini virus. The whitefly transmitted gemini virus disease which causes leaf curling, yellow leaf curl, leaf mottling, crumpling, distortion and stunted plant growth, can result in total crop loss.
According to the RADA Parish Agricultural Manager, the demonstration plot, which was established a week after Hurricane Ivan in September, featured mulching, pesticide application and trellising. These areas were the focal points of discussion at the workshop.
“Having established the plot, we used two types of mulch, one is plastic, and the other is grass,” Mr. Williamson said, further noting that the tomato plant grown in the plot was a “particular variety susceptible to the gemini virus.it therefore means we have to use something to counteract those vectors that carry the disease.” Hence, the mulch is used to suppress weed growth and maintain moisture.
Pointing to another successful method of staving off the virus that was used in the demonstration plot, he informed, “we counteract [the virus] by applying Actara, a systemic insecticide used to control white flies and other sucking insects. This is applied at two weeks after the nursery has been established. At the time of transplanting into the fields, we also apply another portion of Actara.”
He further informed that, “thirdly, we also highlight trellising the plot [whereby] we use cord along the row of both sides of the plant instead of individual stakes”.
Mr. Williamson told JIS News that participants of the workshop were drawn from farmers groups that were going into production shortly under a contractual agreement with the Walkerswood processing plant in St. Ann. Other vegetable farmers also participated in the workshop. “We brought them out today to highlight some of the activities they need to do to increase production and productivity,” he said.
Presentations included, ‘Seedbed Preparation and Application of Fertilizer’, which was made by Product Development Specialist, Ronald O’Neale; ‘Pests and Disease Management’ by Marketing and Development Officer of Agro Grace, Howard Edwards and Zonal Plant Protection Specialist from RADA Eastern Zone, by Carlton Williams; and ‘The Marketing of Tomato’ by Marketing Advisor of the Eastern Jamaica Agricultural Support Project (EJASP), Janet Lawrence.

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