Jamaica at 60 St Ann

NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022 13 Keisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer THERE ARE over 25,000 registered farmers in St Ann contributing to over 1,500 hectares of domestic food crops and 45 acres of protected agricultural greenhouses. Since independence, farmers have been encouraged to increase production, based on the implementation of various projects and programmes initiated through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. One of the main programmes benefiting farmers in the parish is the ministry’s Production Incentive Programme, which is aimed at driving sustainable expansion of selective crops to facilitate the recovery of the agricultural sector to overcome the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of February 25, some $7.9 million has been allocated to the parish for sweet and yellow yam, dasheen and hot pepper production. Other components include the procurement of vegetable seeds, onions, Irish potatoes, pineapple suckers, greenhouse renovations and drought mitigation assistance through water tank and drip irrigation. The Rura l Agr i cul tura l Development Authority (RADA) St Ann extension team also continues to provide group training, virtual linkages and technological transfers to the farmers in the parish. Some 544 training programmes for 2,794 farmers were held in the last financial year. However, there has been a general decline in the production of traditional crops for the parish, such as bananas, coconuts and pimento. One of the major factors, apart from disease and natural disasters, that is believed to be responsible for the suspected decline in this sector, is the reduction in acreage of lands for agriculture in the parish. As a result, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr; minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and JobCreation, RobertMontague; state minister in theMinistry of Agriculture and Fisheries FranklinWitter; as well as members of parliament James Robertson and Lisa Hanna led a tour of the parish recently. Agronomist at RADA, Locksley Waites, acted as the tour’s technical leader. The first stop was at farmer Lawrence Patterson’s properties in Hinds Town, St Ann, where Irish potatoes and sweet pepper are cultivated on over 100 hectacres. “The ministry is focused on giving our support to make sure that our farmers are successful. We will do all that we can to make sure that this production zone is productive,” he said. RADA will also play a role in supporting the zone through the offering of extension services which will enable the efficient use of the lands being occupied. Farmers from Cascade in St Ann have also benefited from the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership Project, which enhanced their capabilities in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Under the project, the Cascade farmers received 1000-gallon tanks, a multipurpose shed that facilitated the harvesting of water in the tanks, and a drip irrigation system to irrigate their crops. Additionally, they were involved in an extensive training programme that included workshop sessions, farmer field schools and field tours to other successful farms in the parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester that utilise climate-smart technologies. The sessions also exposed the farmers to information about climate change, climate-smart agriculture, water harvesting and irrigation technologies, and farming as a business. The project, which exists in seven other Caribbean countries, was financed by the government of Japan to the tune of $29 million and was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Jamaica 4-H Clubs. The other countries include Bel ize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com Agriculture gets much-needed boost This St Ann farmer proudly shows off some tomatoes in her greenhouse. Lebert Taylor (left), a St Ann farmer, sells pumpkins at a farmers’ market. FILE PHOTOS jamaica at JAMAICA AT 60: ST ANN