RADA Hanover looking forward to a ‘more productive 2023’
Deputy Parish Manager for RADA Aston King Jr is hoping for a reversal of a trend of part-time farming in the agricultural sector which resulted in a dip in production levels and output of major crops across Hanover last year.
He reasoned that the COVID 19 pandemic had forced persons to turn to subsistence farming as a means of sustaining their families, however with the reopening of the other sectors, many of these small farmers gave up production which negatively impacted the sector.
“Because of the whole slowdown in the other sectors in 2021 a number of persons turned to some form of home gardening and small-scale, part-time farming, while in 2022 there was the reopening in the other sectors, and people went back to their regular jobs,” he stated.
“(The year) 2022 was a bit of a challenging year,. We had ups and downs throughout the year. Overall, where figures are concerned, we had a slight reduction in production in 2022 in comparison to 2021, but we are looking forward to a more productive 2023,” King said.
King assessed that in 2021 there were more hectares of crops reaped in the parish than in 2022, which registered as a decrease in production. He described the drop in production year over year as “slight”, but said that while it is insignificant it is still a recorded decrease.
He said while some of the part-time farmers planted and reaped in 2021, they chose not to replant in 2022. He noted that in 2022 approximately 1,957 hectares of land under cultivation was reaped.
“We hope that in 2023 we will reverse this planting trend and plant more crops, and also have an increase in the overall hectares reaped for this year,” he stated.
He says that so far there have been positive signs in the sector for the parish.
He said that a variety of crops were planted across the RADA extension areas within the parish ‘and they all lived up to expectations’.
King identified yellow and Lucea yams as crops under the largest land acreage of production, adding that legumes, vegetables, condiments, plantain and bananas are also doing well within the hotels across the five extension areas. He says there is renewed vibrancy in the local market and little problem in marketing those crops.
King encouraged the approximately 8,000 registered farmers in the parish to place emphasis on proper record keeping in their enterprises.
This practice, he said, will assist them in analysing the market and guide them on what to produce and when, whether it will be crops or livestock, and when to make adjustments to increase their productivity levels.
He said praedial larceny remains a major concern across the parish, both in crop production and livestock, with small pockets of violence in some areas also of concern, but argued that efforts are being made to curtail this.
He said the opening of the new RADA parish office in the Haughton Court area of the parish capital, Lucea, costing approximately $110 million, was the high point for farmers and other agricultural technical personnel in 2022.
“The staff are now more comfortable, and we hope that it will also filter down to the level of efficiency in bringing our services to the farmers in the parish,” he stated.
Addressing the recent shortage in animal feed across the island, King noted that it had some devastating effects, especially for chicken farmers in Hanover.
“It affected some of the farmers where they would have lost some birds, or in the overall weight (of the birds), which they were expecting which the birds did not achieve because of the inconsistent supply of feed,” he stated.
He said that as the feed supply is not yet back to normal, farmers have had to cut back on the population of their stock, based on the amount of feed available.
Checks by The Gleaner revealed that poultry production in the parish for 2022 stood at 114,000 broiler birds and 32,000 layer birds.