JIS News

The first phase of the national farmer registration drive will get underway in the eastern zone on October 4, beginning in St. Andrew.
Co-ordinated by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the registration process will continue on October 11 in Portland; St. Thomas on October 19 and in St. Mary on October 25.
The parishes of St. Catherine, St. Ann, and Clarendon will also be facilitated in the first phase of the registration.
Only those farmers who are registered with the system will be able to access receipt books, which will be distributed by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).Manager for Information Communication Technology at RADA, Douglas Nelson, told JIS News that the drive was part of data collection for the Agricultural Business Information System (ABIS), which was created “to provide information to stakeholders in agriculture; [such as] farmers, buyers, input suppliers and the government”.
He explained that the ABIS registry would be the driving force in stemming the scourge of praedial larceny. In this regard, under the amended Agricultural Produce Act, all bona fide farmers would be required to utilize receipt books to conduct their transactions in relation to the sale of farm produce to retailers and vendors.
The issuing of the receipts means that if a Police officer needs verification that the goods that are in the possession of a retailer or vendor were obtained through genuine means, the receipt would be proof. If the retailer is unable to produce receipts, the goods may be seized.
Mr. Nelson stressed that the registration process “has nothing to do with taxation”, as some farmers assume. Instead, he reiterated that the registry “is about providing information to assist stakeholders and government”, to facilitate the modernization of the agricultural sector, through the provision of current and relevant information.Farmers who are already registered with other agricultural agencies are still urged to register with ABIS.
On the matter of notifying the farmers in the various districts of the locations for registration, Mr. Nelson said that they would hear the notices via the Jamaica Information Service’s town criers.
However, farmers who miss the opportunity to register at the specific locations may still visit the RADA office in their parish to be registered.
For registration, farmers are required to submit a valid identification card, which may be any one of the following: Passport, Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), Tax Valuation, Driver’s Licence, and the JAS identification card. Farmers are also required to have knowledge of their total available land, cultivated holding, livestock count, and planting dates for their crops.
Mr. Nelson explained that the purpose of ABIS was to register all the stakeholders involved in the process, track the activities of representative samples of stakeholders and provide online trading between buyers and sellers.
He also noted that the system would be a repository for information about the best agricultural practices, and to give relevant information to the stakeholders as it relates to production output, prices and the quality of produce.
The second phase of the farmer registration drive will take place in the western zone, and will facilitate farmers in the parishes of Manchester,St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, St. James and Trelawny.
The ABIS is a five-year project, which began in 1999 and will end in March 2005.

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