Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
THE INTER-AMERICAN Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on Monday donated equipment valued at US$5,000 to the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) to help with the rehabilitation of its tutorial farm.
Netting, plastic sheets, galvanised PVC piping, vegetable seed and chemicals were among the agricultural inputs received on behalf of the Portland-based institution whose greenhouses, shade houses and hydroponics infrastructure were destroyed during the passage of Hurricane Sandy.
The agency also used the handover ceremony held at its Hope Gardens, St Andrew, offices to present US$2,000 worth of hygiene equipment tools to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority to be used by livestock officers. The items, including hoof trimmer, ear tag applicators/ear tag, tattoo kit, ear notcher, weight tape and wire saw, are essential to the proper care of small ruminants.
Both presentations were in keeping with IICA's relief efforts to the agricultural sector in wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy last October and which was estimated at $J1.5 billion. Board chairman of CASE, Ambassador Derick Heaven, and acting principal Reverend Dr Mary Nichols were full of praise.
Said Heaven: "We have had a number of promises from international institutions and you are the first to deliver. We are most grateful to you because the college was particularly badly hit and it was not just the living quarters or the library, but a lot of damage was also done in the field to the farm, to the greenhouses, shade houses."
Appeal for assistance
Meanwhile, Nichols used the occasion to appeal for more assistance. She told The Gleaner: "I would want all the other stakeholders who have promised to assist to respond in like manner because we need the help to get back on the path to self-sufficiency and food security.
"A number of persons came and they did assessments and we were waiting with bated breath and it is actually on my prayer list every day that somebody needs to respond. So when I got the call that yes, not that we are responding, but that we have already paid for most of the things that you will require to put back the greenhouses, the shade houses and hydroponics ... ."
Nichols explained that not only is this equipment important for teaching purposes, but the longer time it took to get the vegetable gardens up and running would cost the college.
"We were doing our own vegetables and almost every little thing that we needed also in terms of other short-term crops, we were self-sufficient - callaloo, tomato, cabbage, pak choi, so that will put us back to where we can save some money.