JIS News

The process to transform and rebrand the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) into a more modern organization has commenced, following Cabinet approval.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence, told JIS News that a re-engineered RADA, will better serve an expanding technologically driven farming community.

He informed that Cabinet has approved $23 million to engage consultancy for the re-structuring process to commence in this fiscal year.

“This year, we are going to begin the process of engaging the consultancy in order to redesign RADA, to rebrand it, as not the rural agriculture development agency, but more or less the National Agriculture Development Agency because it is beyond rural,” Mr. Spence said.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the Ministry had embarked on a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders “and the consensus has been built over time that there is need for review” of the entity.

“Not that fundamentally something is wrong with the delivery [of RADA], but that the farming population and farming communities across the country have expanded. There has been new technology that has been introduced and farmers haven’t received training over time. They are at the point where they too are learning on their own and adapting as they go ahead so we need to take a look at RADA to ensure that we improve to satisfy the current requirements that is facing us,” Mr. Spence said.

He noted that the restructuring will see more specialists within the agency, due to the diversification of crop production that is taking place in agriculture.

“One of the critical and important things is that we’re looking at consolidating extension services. So far [we are looking at] sugar, banana, coffee, [and] coconut; all those extension services that are being offered, RADA has to retrofit itself in order to be able to deliver those and so there is to be a reduction in the splintering of the delivery of these services,” the Permanent Secretary explained.

Mr. Spence indicated that with a restructured RADA, there will be an increase in the cadre of extension officers “so that their work becomes more strategic, and the support in terms of the equipment and tools that they need.”

“We are looking at and ensuring that along with the specialists and the expansion in extension officers, that there are some new components that will come on in the delivery of the service and that will involve engaging in what we call applied research with the farmers, as they change what we’re doing out in the field,” he pointed out.

RADA was established under the Rural Agricultural Development Authority Act of 1990, replacing the Land Authorities Act and began its operation on August 1, 1990. It is Jamaica’s chief agricultural extension and rural development agency.

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