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JIS News

Come April 1, farmers across the island should begin to experience a new and improved Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), as the agency will be undergoing a restructuring exercise, which is expected to last six months.
This was disclosed by Chairman of RADA, Dr. Omer Thomas, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ at the agency’s head office in Kingston on March 26.
According to the Chairman, the organization has to be reorganized, reshaped and re-engineered in order to better serve the farming community. “This re-organization, we hope, will bring about the redress of the shortcomings and the creation of a better institution to support farmers and their stakeholders,” he said.
The restructuring exercise will see a rationalization of the administrative staff, while the extension cohort will be beefed up from 120 to 240 persons. “It behoves us to zero in on the organization of the support mechanisms to encourage local production in order to assure and ensure food security,” Dr. Thomas said.
At the end of the six months, the Chairman said the organization would be more transparent, accountable, reliable, dependable and efficient.
Meanwhile, a number of initiatives, aimed at improving the organization, have already begun. These include the establishment of 14 Parish Advisory Boards along with the appointment of its members; a produce marketing system; and a national disaster response mechanism geared at garnering firsthand information on where a problem exists in the sector, the extent of the crisis and the needs of farmers in order to return them to some level of productivity.
Additionally, an urban agriculture initiative will place special emphasis on urban communities, such as Portmore and Kingston, and will encourage homeowners to utilize small spaces around the house, such as balconies, to grow food to be used as part of their daily diet.
The Ministry of Agriculture, through RADA and its Parish Advisory Boards, will provide seedlings, organic fertilizers and insecticides to persons interested in becoming involved in the project.