First Look

$120M to be spent on projects for St Andrew Farmers

Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce | 2016-08-10 11:00:00

Some $20 million for farm road repairs and $100 million for a water supply project are two of the projects that have been identified to help farmers improve production and productivity levels in sections of St Andrew.

This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon J.C. Hutchinson while addressing some 30 farmers groups from six RADA extension areas in Kingston and St Andrew Tuesday (August 9).

With specific reference to the coffee farmers in Eastern St Andrew, Minister Hutchinson noted the various challenges they have faced and encouraged them to continue to persevere in their efforts to improve production and productivity. He encouraged them to use methods such as the intercropping of cash crops such as scallion and thyme, Irish potatoes, peas and so on with their coffee cultivation.

As part of efforts to increase productivity among coffee farmers, a group of young farmers in Content Gap and Pampi Hut in East Rural St Andrew will also be provided with incentives for the cultivation of 15 acres of coffee. The youth project was launched under Project Hope, an initiative in collaboration with the Member of Parliament for the area.

In the first of 13 parish meetings to meet the farmers and RADA staff to discuss matters relating to production and productivity in the agricultural sector, Minister Hutchinson saluted the small farmers for their continued contribution to the sector.

The Minister also signalled the increased involvement of small farmers in the distribution of inputs supplied by the Rural Agricultural Authority (RADA), saying that the bulk of these inputs would be channelled through the Produce and Marketing Organisations (PMOs) in farming communities across the island.

Minister Hutchinson said that while some of the inputs such as fertilisers, seeds, sprays, pesticides and so on would be distributed through Members of Parliament, the majority should go via the PMOs to the farmers so as to ensure that the inputs were in fact channelled to bona fide farmers with a real need.

He outlined several initiatives aimed at establishing an integrated system for the development of the agriculture sector and projected that by next year Jamaica should have established its first Agro-Economic Zone to provide farmers with a facility for improved marketing of their produce. This facility would offer grading, packaging processing and storage of produce and value-added products.

Also in attendance at Tuesday's meeting were Genille Atallah, chairman of the RADA National Advisory Board as well as members of the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Advisory Board.

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