JIS News

Officials of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) along with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine, K.D. Knight yesterday (August 31) handed over two Nubian goats to farmers of Waterloo Villas in St. Catherine as part of a RADA training programme in husbandry and goat management. RADA Parish Agricultural Manager, Andrew Carty told JIS News that the aim of the project was to introduce a new variety of goat to the community, to upgrade the quality of goats and to train the farmers in proper animal husbandry management practices.
Minister Knight, who presided over the handing over ceremony, emphasized the fact that the agricultural sector was dependent on small farmers. He stressed the importance of protecting the Jamaican farmer in the global marketplace. “We have to ensure that we give as much attention and support to our small farmers as we possibly can because they are the backbone of our society,” he said.
The Minister went on further to state that the agricultural sector, without a doubt provided gainful employment to a number of Jamaicans. He said the industry also created cohesion in the family. Minister Knight further pointed out that this sector helped to stem rural/urban drift.
Regarding the importance of food security he cited the recent passage of Hurricane Katrina, which has caused devastation in some parts of the United States, as a prime example of the importance of not being too heavily dependent on imported goods. He said given the situation caused by the hurricane in the U.S., Jamaica would be experiencing shortage at this time if the island was heavily dependent on food exports from that country.
“If it was that we were depending solely on imported goods, we would be in trouble, so for our own food security it is important that we pay special attention to the agricultural sector,” he stressed.In closing, the Minister told farmers to take advantage of the training that was being offered by RADA as it would not only enhance their goat rearing skills but enable them to be better and bigger farmers. He also encouraged them to use the opportunity to satisfy the existing demand for goat flesh within the country.
“All we can satisfy is 30 per cent of the demand for goat flesh so understand that 70 per cent more is out there to be satisfied. I want you to make a success of this project so that you will make a dent in the 70 per cent shortfall,” he charged.
The community of Waterloo Villas was chosen for the project based on the enthusiasm and willingness exhibited by the residents to learn the proper techniques in animal husbandry. At the end of the training programme the farmers will be able to identify animal anatomy, carry out general maintenance and husbandry, as well as administer medication to the goats.
Funding for the project was made possible through the Member of Parliament Production Incentive Programme and cost approximately $80,000. This will cover the provision of bucks and does, medication and completion of proper housing for goats.