Thu | Aug 17, 2017

$120M to be spent on projects for St Andrew farmers

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Some J$20 million for farm road repairs and J$100 million for a water-supply project are two of the initiatives that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries said have been identified to help farmers improve production and productivity levels in sections of St Andrew.

A release out of the ministry said Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, J.C. Hutchinson told this to 30 farmers groups from six Rural Agricultural Authority (RADA) extension areas in Kingston and St Andrew on Tuesday.

With specific reference to the coffee farmers in eastern St Andrew, Hutchinson noted the various challenges they have faced and urged them to continue to persevere in their efforts to improve production and productivity. He encouraged them to use methods such as the intercropping of cash crops such as scallion and thyme, Irish potatoes and their coffee cultivation.

As part of efforts to increase productivity among coffee farmers, a group of young farmers in Content Gap and Pampi Hut in East Rural St Andrew will also be provided with incentives for the cultivation of 15 acres of coffee.

In the first of 13 parish meetings with farmers and RADA staff to discuss matters relating to production and productivity in the agricultural sector, Hutchinson saluted the small farmers for their continued contribution to the sector.

The minister also pointed to the increased involvement of small farmers in the distribution of inputs supplied by RADA, saying that the bulk of these inputs would be channelled through the Produce and Marketing Organisations (PMOs) in farming communities across the island.

He said that while some of the input such as fertilisers, seeds, sprays and pesticides would be distributed through members of Parliament, the majority should go via the PMOs to the farmers so as to ensure that the supplies were in fact channelled to bona fide farmers with a real need.

He outlined several initiatives aimed at establishing an integrated system for the development of the agriculture sector and projected that by next year, Jamaica should have established its first Agro-Economic Zone to provide farmers with a facility for improved marketing of their produce. This facility would offer grading, packaging, processing and storage of produce and value-added products.