Letter of the day: Boost farms with better irrigation, greenhouses
THE EDITOR, SIR:
The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) celebrated, with pageantry, its 40th anniversary as a tri-national body at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel on December 2. The institute must be congratulated for taking its own stewardship over the years to task by measuring its accomplishments sharply against what has been expended.
However, putting its past accomplishments behind it, and now looking to the future, I wish to challenge the institute to take hold of its own penchant for problem solving in agriculture through science and technology to face off with two significant challenges now facing the sector.
1) Solving the irrigation problem in the Breadbasket Parish, St Elizabeth.
2) Greenhouse construction and import substitution.
It is heart-rending and economy-bleeding to see the St Elizabeth farmers, time and again, bemoan the fact that while they have near-optimal supply of all the other agricultural inputs, but for a little water, their harvests are impaired, or aborted. There could be a significant rise in gross domestic product for Jamaica were the potential for irrigable agriculture realisable.
The Kibbutz peasant farmers producing vegetables and condiments in Israel speak of one lament; that of disposing of excellent quality production surplus, coming out of arid deserts. There, the average carrot comes to maturity by some 33 drops of recycled water.
The second challenge for the IICA's partners, principal among which is the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, could be the rebranding of the concept of the old Arigonabo Textile Mills to now produce antiviral and shade netting for local use and export.
The redesign of local greenhouses is also imperative in order to make them collapsible (without dismantling) in the face of eminent weather disturbances. Further, to substitute local timber, used for the uprights, in preference to the imported galvanised piping.
DERRICK D. SIMON
Hope Gardens, Kingston 6