Wed | Aug 21, 2019

RADA conducting impact assessment of drought on farming communities

Published:Friday | July 19, 2019 | 4:51 PM
Acting Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Roy McNeil (right), is greeted by Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Peter Thompson, at a stakeholder's breakfast meeting for the 10th annual Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services conference in St Andrew on July 19, 2019 - Contributed photo.

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is conducting an assessment of the impact of drought on major farming communities across the island.

“Right now, we have to be trucking water to farmers in Manchester, St Elizabeth, St Mary and St Ann,” said Peter Thompson, RADA Chief Executive Officer.

Thompson was speaking at a stakeholder’s breakfast meeting for the 10th annual Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services in New Kingston today.

The conference, which is to be held from September 30 to October 4, is co-organised by the Caribbean Agricultural Extension Providers’ Network (CAEPNet), RADA and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

The RADA CEO indicated that a report outlining the increases in local agricultural commodities will be prepared and shared with the public in short order.

Meanwhile, Mr. Thompson is urging farmers not to use the sprinkler system for irrigation but to resort to the drip system of irrigation.

This, he said, is necessary so that less water is wasted on weeds and other plants that are not a part of the production process.

 “We are also encouraging farmers to move livestock to shaded areas so as to minimise the competition between crops and livestock as the livestock will be competing with plants for water,” he said. 

He added that farmers situated in St Elizabeth and Manchester should utilise the mulching technique of farming, which conserves soil moisture, lowers soil temperatures around plant roots, prevents erosion and reduces weed growth.

“Farmers should also scale back on their production. It makes no sense for you to plant 10 acres of something you will be unable to water, do one or two acres instead,” he said.

In his remarks, Acting Chief Technical Director in the Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, Roy McNeil, said the conference will identify and document real solutions to the challenges of climate change.

He added that the conference will also present an opportunity to strengthen alliances and create synergies among various sectors involving food and nutrition security.

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