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JIS News

The parish office of the St. Catherine Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is promoting hot pepper production in the parish, under the Domestic Food Crop and Marketing Project. Parish Manager for RADA, Andrew Carty told JIS News that some 16 farmers are being targeted to establish four hectares of hot peppers in the Linstead, Old Harbour, Lluidasvale and Spanish Town extension areas.
Mr. Carty said that each farmer would receive fertilizer and planting material valued at $2,250. “Now is the right season for the planting, because there is a great demand for peppers in the overseas market during the winter season, so we try to put in the crop so it can come into production between January and March next year,” he explained.
Mr. Carty pointed out, that the farmers have established their plots and some have started planting with seedlings obtained from the RADA parish nursery.
He said that farmers who were cultivating on steep slopes, especially in the Lluidasvale area, were being encouraged to put in “conservation barriers to prevent the soil from eroding and to assist in maintaining the soil fertility”.
The Parish Manager said that farmers participating in the project would be involved in a series of training sessions this month. Topics to be discussed include nursery establishment, crop care and seedling production for vegetable crops, such as hot pepper, calaloo, sweet pepper and tomato.
Other topics are land husbandry, including land preparation and crop care practices. Training will be conducted by RADA Extension Officers, the Parish Manager and Deputy Parish Manager.
Mr. Carty said that his main concern at this time was the Gall Midge insect that could affect the hot pepper production. He noted that the small insect burrowed between the stem and fruit, which caused blackening of the stem and rotting of the fruit. He said that RADA was putting in control measures, such as the spraying of insecticides and crop rotation to control the pests.
The Domestic Food Crop and Marketing Project, which falls under RADA, started in July 1998. It aims to increase the production of 10 selected crops for the local and export markets. The crops targeted include Negro yam, sweet potato, red cocoa, plantain, escallion, dasheen, carrots, exotic vegetables and hot peppers.