Hayles commends Portland farmers on innovativeness
FOLLY OVAL, Portland:
STATE MINISTER in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ian Hayles, has commended various entrepreneurs and agro-processors in Portland who are engaged in the conversion of primary products into value-added ones.
Hayles was speaking at the local Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) open day event held at Folly Oval in Port Antonio last week.
"For too long, we have engaged in agriculture as a subsistent activity. Profit and income generating, along with the increasing of production, should be the new mantra," said Hayles.
He added: "There are certain measures to be undertaken by the ministry so as to increase the farmers' efficiency, including the rehabilitation of farm roads, providing water on the farm, and providing facilities for packing, storing, sorting, grading, and distributing."
RADA's open day provides the agency with an opportunity to display produce from various farmers and groups, and gives supporting agencies a chance to meet with farmers face to face, with the intention of luring them into buying farm equipment and other instruments to improve their farming practices.
Farmers drawn from various farm groups in east and west Portland displayed various crops, including bananas, yam, onions, pumpkin, tomato, carrot, peppers, ginger, cassava, and melons, some of which were sold to consumers.
Hayles noted that successive administrations have advocated for and have put in place policies and institutional framework to improve efficiency such as tractor service and small tool programme, and collaborating with local and foreign partners for programmes such as production and productivity, and fruit tree crop.
"But we have a challenge and a reality that we cannot sweep under the rug. Too many of our farmers rely on handouts and subsidy from government. We have to move away from that kind of culture and become independent and self-sufficient," said the minister.
- Gareth Davis