MONTEGO BAY — The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) office in Montego Bay, St. James, is moving to increase vegetable production in the parish, through the implementation of a state-of the art Greenhouse to produce vegetable seedlings.
The project has come about with assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Greenhouse is valued at approximately $1 .5 million and is located on the RADA parish office premises in Catherine Hall.
According to the Agricultural Manager for RADA in St. James, Venton Bucknor, an average of 400 hectares of agricultural lands is put under vegetable production annually in the parish, and the intention is to increase production. The greenhouse has a capacity to produce some 70,000 vegetable seedlings, annually.
"This Greenhouse is equipped with a misting system; we have storage tanks which will be used to store water harvested from the roof of the facility, which will be a cost saving measure, in terms of our use of water," he stated.
He explained that production in the Greenhouse will be done in a "market driven fashion", in that seedlings will be produced on request.
“As you know, it would not be feasible to produce the plants and then try to sell them to the farmers. So, we are asking the farmers to come to the RADA office at Catherine Hall, place their orders and make a 50 percent deposit, from there we will produce the seedlings for those farmers who have made the deposit,” he stated.
He said that in light of the type of technology to be used, production of the seedlings will take four to five weeks to be ready for the market.
With over 6,000 registered farmers in St. James, Mr. Bucknor was quick to point out that not all of them are into vegetable production, but it is hoped that with the new facility up and running more St. James farmers will get involved in vegetable production.
He expressed the hope that farmers from adjoining parishes will also use the facility. He said the facility will also be opened to individuals who want to purchase vegetables seedlings to set up their home garden, for schools and any other entity or group who might be interested in setting up a vegetable garden.
He noted that the infrastructure is in place to start production of the vegetable seedlings, and RADA is ready to take the orders for planting.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter