Several Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) extension officers are currently engaged in a two-day sorrel harvesting training programme, aimed at equipping them with knowledge on production techniques to be transferred to farmers.
Experts from the University of Chapingo in Mexico, are providing training to 20 officers from all parishes on the correct use of the sorrel harvesting machine, designed and manufactured by the university, to reduce harvesting time and cost. They will also receive instruction in colour stabilisation in sorrel and secondary products.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the training programme, held at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew on November 7, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said the initiative will help to increase the efficiency of sorrel production and reduce labour costs.
“In Jamaica, the challenge exists in the harvesting of the sorrel, which is very labour intensive. It takes two persons approximately 15 days to harvest one acre of sorrel. In order to increase our competitiveness on the global market, we must find a way to reduce our labour cost,” he said.
Minister Clarke further expressed the hope that the knowledge and practical skills garnered in the training programme “will not end with our extension officers but will be promulgated to our farmer groups, agro-processors and even the small and medium entrepreneurs”.
Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Gerardo Lozano, reiterated Mexico’s commitment to “continue consolidating our co-operation exchanges with Jamaica within the primary fields of agriculture modernisation, crop health and food safety”.
He reminded that through a previous co-operation programme between Jamaica and Mexico, the Scientific Research Council (SRC) gained knowledge on sorrel cultivation, harvesting and processing operations developed in Mexico, while Mexico identified new areas for development of sorrel.
“Based on this good experience, the Jamaican authorities were able to identify the potential of the utilisation of the sorrel harvesting machine as a relevant tool to increase effectiveness in sorrel harvesting,” the Ambassador said.
The extension officers will participate in a demonstration exercise today on the proper use of the machine at the Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine.