• JIS News

    The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Clarendon Parish Office held its first Farmers Awards Ceremony on Thursday (Jan. 28) at the Juici Patties Complex, at Clarendon Park, in Clarendon.
    Twenty-four individuals and four entities received awards while two members of staff from the RADA Clarendon Parish Office were awarded for their contribution to the organisation.
    The farmers were awarded for outstanding performance in crop production areas such as vegetables, citrus, roots and tubers, hot pepper, cocoa, ackee, avocado, ginger, coffee and greenhouse farming.
    Those farmers who are involved in goat, pig and poultry rearing were awarded as well as farmers involved in egg production (layer birds), and bee-keeping were also awarded.
    Kevin Dennis and David Kerr cropped the Young Farmers award, while Noel Lowe got the award for land preparation.
    The award for agro processing went to Shirley Bennett, while the Community Involvement award went to Gloria Powell.
    The entities receiving awards were Tijule for agro processing, Nasa Farms for dairy cow production and Juici Patties for beef production. Mount Providence Telefood received the award for Community Involvement.
    Winston Barnes and Andrea Legg were the two Clarendon RADA Parish Office staff members who received the Chairman’s Award for service to the organisation.
    Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton said that over the last couple of years the government has tried to heighten the recognition of agriculture as a productive sector in the country.
    “Too often we fail to recognise the efforts and recognition sometimes even more than money is the greatest motivator for continued effort. We have tried over the last couple of years as a government to heighten the appreciation and recognition of agriculture as a productive sector in the country,” he said.
    He said that while in the past farmers and their importance were overlooked, this is not what obtains today.
    “While in the past agriculture was viewed as an attractive economic activity on the periphery of this fool’s paradise that existed for so long where the shuffling of paper created artificial wealth and a sense of security that was unsustainable, it is a different story now and it has to be a different story if we are to confront the real challenge that we face,” he said.
    Dr. Tufton called on farmers to see themselves as producers and that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is to implement a programme to recognise agriculture and agro industry as an important part of the Jamaican economy.
    “Agriculture is attractive again as it should be. It should have never have lost its attractiveness. You have maintained the struggle and what you need right now is the recognition and the support to expand your endeavours so that you can produce more and move up the value chain into a better place and as an agro investor you must see yourself as a producer in the real economy,” he said.
    He pointed out that the Ministry wants to elevate the earning potential of farmers and agro investors, and is therefore placing emphasis on value-added production.
    Stating that farming and agriculture secures the livelihood of over 200,000 Jamaicans directly with 800,000 to one million persons benefitting indirectly, the Agriculture Minister said that no government should ignore the development of the sector.
    “It is singularly the largest employer of labour in Jamaica. Any government that ignores the development of agriculture, ignores the development of rural life and the development of our country,” he said.
    Clarendon recorded approximately 28 per cent increase over 2008 in agricultural output and represented eight per cent of the country’s food production.