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RADA calls claims of illiteracy 'insulting'

Published:Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has described as insulting statements attributed to Deputy Superintendent of Police Paul Bernard and Dr Lynden Rose, a justice of the peace for St Elizabeth, during a recent Gleaner Inside the Municipal Corporations Forum in the parish capital, Black River.

Both men attributed under-performance of the agricultural sector to the illiteracy of farmers, as well as their lack of access to training, in an article published in The Gleaner last Monday.

"These comments are insulting to the hard-working farmers, RADA extension officers, along with the agricultural stakeholders to include local suppliers, local and international agencies who are working assiduously for the continued growth and development of the sector. In a collaborative manner, farmers are empowered and trained to become certified in many areas of agriculture," Peter Thompson, chief executive officer of RADA, said in a subsequent statement.

Based on data obtained from RADA's Agricultural Business Information System (ABIS), there are 186,519 registered farmers in Jamaica, including 25,950 in St Elizabeth, Thompson pointed out.

"The occupational distribution among the farming population revealed that approximately 69 per cent named their occupation as full-time farmers. The remaining percentage is represented by public servants, police, soldiers, security guards, professionals, among other categories.

"Data from ABIS show that 43.5 per cent of registered farmers have primary level of education, 25.5 per cent attained secondary level, and only 2.9 per cent of farmers have none. This is important, as the challenges with farmers' learning and the rate of technology adoption are not solely related to 'uneducated farmers', but to farmers with all levels of educational exposure.

"Farmers' education is a continuous process rather than a one-time intervention. Various training methodologies are used to create an environment for adoption of knowledge, enhancement of skills and change of attitudes."