The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) will be continuing its mobile market initiative, to assist farmers being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was disclosed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RADA, Peter Thompson, during a recent interview on the JIS television programme, ‘Get the facts’.
The fallout in key sectors, such as Tourism and Education, due to containment measures, has caused farmers to lose valuable markets, leaving them with excess produce.
RADA has been intervening in the market to buy the excess produce, taking them from the famers in the field to town centres, Corporate Area and business establishments, where there are then sold.
Prior to being sold, the produce is taken to centres for washing, grading and packaging.
“Money was made available to go into the market and buy produce from the farmers. I must tell you that the production level was really up because we were on a drive to increase production and productivity,” Mr. Thompson said.
He noted that since the programme started, two additional purveyors have been contracted to buy and sell the produce.
The CEO said that no decision has been made to discontinue the mobile market, as it has been successful to date.
“We see no immediate end in sight because it has been working, and I must tell you we have assisted the farmers in marketing over 3,527 tonnes of agricultural produce and we have been having market consistently right across Jamaica,” Mr. Thompson informed.
RADA extension officers are responsible for connecting with the farmers who have excess produce. The farmers are usually instructed to turn up at a central point, where the produce is examined before being transported.
“Extension officers and the marketing officers play a critical role in mobilising the farmers to get the produce at a central point. Fortunately, the rules are relaxed, so some of the farmers have been able to attend to their field,” Mr. Thompson said.
Farmers in need of assistance can contact their RADA parish office or call the head office in Kingston at 876-977-1158-62 or toll free 1-888-ASK RADA (1-888-275-7232).