The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is in the process of restructuring its marketing system to better enable farmers to find suitable outlets for their produce.
“We are determined, this year, to reorganise the marketing structure. People must know when and (what farmers ) are going to plant,” portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke stated on Friday (May 25), as he addressed the ‘Hanover Farmers’ Day’ event at the Mount Peto Primary School in the parish.
“We don’t want our farmers to be discouraged because when you plant your crops and they come to maturity and you can’t sell your produce, you naturally become discouraged,” he stated.
The marketing system, operated by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), seeks to provide reliable and verifiable data on crop production and marketing through an island-wide computer network, which allows for easy access to registered stakeholders including producers, buyers, and providers of production inputs.
Minister Clarke said the restructuring process will involve “updating our database to enable the marketing people to make proper arrangements for your produce even before you go into the ground."
The farmers’ day, organised by the Hanover Homecoming Foundation in collaboration with the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), highlighted the best of agricultural production in the parish, including crops and livestock. There was also a display of manufactured products.
Minister Clarke, noting the large display of rabbits, said that a number of hotels are demanding rabbit meat, and the Ministry will help to bring the hotels and the farmers together.
“Sometimes, the hotels do not want to deal directly with individual farmers, but if that is so, then organise yourselves into groups and have the leadership approach the hotels and the Ministry will assist in that regard,” he said.
The Minster, in his address, reiterated his call for citizens to support the activities of farmers, whom, he stated, are the backbone of the country and have been feeding the nation for decades.
“We must eat what we produce here. We must ‘grow what we eat and eat what we grow’. What is better than a piece of Negro yam or a piece of yellow yam, or a good piece of yellow heart breadfruit? There were days when truckloads of Lucea yam used to come out of Hanover. Where is the Lucea yam now? We’ve got to get back to basics now for there is market for it and we must grow the things that we have market for,” the Minister stated.
He argued that agriculture is critical in helping the country overcome its economic challenges. “We are going to have to produce our way out of the difficulties that we are in and what better way to produce than starting with our farmers. We must now move with dispatch and lift the profile of agriculture. We must have innovations and modernise the sector… so that more young people are attracted to the farming occupation,” he said.
Minister Clarke stated that as the country celebrates its 50th year of Independence, “we must all ensure that we make significant contributions to the growth and development of agriculture."
“I want to leave this as a legacy for this country and it can only happen with your support. Let’s therefore work together for greater private/public partnerships to move this country forward,” he stressed.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter