JIS News

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has announced that it will be registering some 1,000 farmers each month, over the next six to nine months, in an effort to compile data on all farmers and farms across the island.
Making this announcement at yesterday’s (Sept. 3) JIS Think Tank session, Executive Director of RADA, Alexander Powell, said the Agency was working with the Electoral Office of Jamaica, to fast-track the farmer registration process and used the opportunity to appeal to all farmers across Jamaica to start registering under the Farmer Registration Programme, without further delay.
He said the main aim of the programme is to upgrade the income and standard of living for farmers, by providing technical support in relation to crop selection, farming techniques, technological input, marketing, disaster management, disease control, and development planning for registered farmers.
The Farmer Registration Programme, will also provide vital planning information and inputs necessary, to achieve a projected increase in agricultural contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from the current five per cent to between 10 and 12 per cent, over the next eight to nine years, Mr. Powell said.
Registered farmers, Mr. Powell explained, stand to benefit from immediate technical support, and assistance, with inputs such as fertiliser and seeds to restore production and efficiency and reduce gluts, particularly in the wake of Tropical Storm Gustav.
Normally, he said, it can take up to 10 weeks for re-planting and production resumption after a storm or hurricane, but the goal of RADA, at this time, is to reduce post-storm down-time and get farmers back in production in four weeks.
Mr. Powell pointed out that the Farmer Registration Programme, will be re- launched by the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, on September 10 at the Mandeville Town Hall, Manchester. All farmers and other members of the public are invited to attend.
Mr. Powell gave every assurance, that the Farmer Registration Programme, is not about taxation or any added costs to farmers. He said no registration fee will be charged and farmers can simply visit the nearest RADA office and provide information such as location and size of farms, crops being grown, amounts, distribution, future plan, and bio-data such as name, age and gender. RADA Extension Officers will verify information and farmers will be issued with identification cards by the Electoral Office of Jamaica.
Pointing out that statistics have shown that there are approximately 200,000 farmers in Jamaica, the RADA Executive Director noted that half this number have registered to date. A significant number of farmers have already registered in Manchester and St. Elizabeth, he said, while the other parishes are lagging.
In the meantime, Mr. Powell said that RADA will be gearing up to serve registered farmers, by increasing its Marketing Officers to about 60. He said purchasers and distributors are also being registered, ensuring that vital tenets of the support system are included, in a process of structured re-vitalisation of the agricultural sector.
Urging farmers to get on board, Mr. Powell warned that farmers who are not registered, do not stand to benefit from technical and other assistance, as there would be no information on them, to guide RADA’s response to their needs.