According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RADA, Lenworth Fulton, farmers and other interested patrons attending the three-day event, commencing Friday, July 31, will be exposed to the Authority’s major projects and how to ensure that farming deliver high yields in a climate change era.
“The major showpiece at Denbigh will demonstrate aspects of our food processing, and show a significant improvement in climate change resilience, and how to get our farmers to be climate smart,” Mr. Fulton tells JIS News.
He explains that information will be available at the Denbigh show on ways to be profitable utilising new farming techniques, including drought mitigation strategies, irrigation, water harvesting, green house production and various soil husbandry operations that are necessary in a climate change environment.
The CEO says that the Authority stands on four strategic pillars – improvement in production and productivity of crops and livestock; encouragement of new entrants to the sector; greater focus on women and youth; and organizational realignment with a focus on the technical nature of the authority.
The organization, he says, is also focusing on capacity building of its staff, to better serve the nation’s farmers, as well as the development of alternative sources of income for the Authority, “through income generation projects.”
Stressing that farmers are the main engines of growth in the Jamaican economy, Mr. Fulton argues that the country is depending on their productivity to reduce the over US$1 billion to import food into the island.
“The food import bill must be reduced by 40 to 45 per cent over a five-year,” he says, while committing that RADA will be at the forefront of ensuring that farmers get the most from their effort.
The CEO points out that farmers will, in a short time, have more trained and informed extension officers available to them, with a focus on improved production and profitability of farmers.
Come September, the Authority will open a new office in the parish of Trelawny, built at a cost of $89 million.
The office will be located on the Hague Agricultural Showground, and Mr. Fulton says it will be a home for farmers, where they will receive crucial information from RADA and other organizations that will be housed there.
Chairman of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Trelawny branch, Wendell Stewart, says the building will also house the JAS and the Jamaica 4-H Club parish organizations.
“This will bring together three major agricultural bodies. When the farmers visit one of these entities, they will have access to all three, should the need arise,” the Chairman tells JIS News.
Speaking at a recent 25th anniversary ceremony for the Authority, in Kingston, Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the organization can be “justly proud” for the 25-year milestone. “Through your network of strategically placed offices, you have conducted approximately 55,800 farm visits, and over 2,400 training sessions for our farmers. This is commendable, as you seek to fulfil your mission of providing technical, marketing, financial and infrastructural facilities, as well as social services required for the improvement of the quality of life for farm families,” the Minister said.
For his part, President of the JAS, Senator Norman Grant, said organization recognizes the contribution of RADA to the building of the agricultural sector, noting that both entities have had years of partnership for the benefit of farmers.
“The JAS commits to this partnership, as we focus on economic transformation, food security, and rural advancement of our people. We are very proud of the work of RADA, and we commend them,” Senator Grant said.
In November the Authority will stage a public lecture, from which it will develop a booklet for distribution to the farming sector, while in December it will stage an awards banquet to recognize the work of staff and stakeholders.