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RADA pushes initiatives to boost production and export

Chief Executive Officer for RADA, Lenworth Fulton. Chief Executive Officer for RADA, Lenworth Fulton.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed pressing boosting agricultural production and capturing a fair share of the export market for fresh produce.

One of those initiatives includes a survey among farmers in a number of selected mountainous farming communities to determine factors that allow them to have higher production levels than others.

Among the areas to be covered are the southern Trelawny, Frazer, Mount Moriah, Douglas Castle and Blackstonedge in St Ann.

“We want to study the attitude of these farmers as against other farmers who have irrigation systems, have the same market and get the same price but are not as aggressive and productive,” said Chief Executive Officer for RADA, Lenworth Fulton.

The aim is to determine the root cause “so that we can tweak training to address those that are not very productive, and also train to keep those who are productive at their maximum,” he said.

The survey which is currently being developed will run for about a month when implemented early in the New Year.

Mr. Fulton had high praise especially for farmers who do not have access to an ongoing flow of water but whose farms have been yielding high production.

He noted that RADA was encouraging farmers to increase production in all areas to meet the demands of a growing local market and also for emerging export markets whether there is a craving for fresh produce.

He identified major expansion in the tourist industry with thousands of new rooms coming stream as well as growth in cruise shipping as two areas that fuel the demand for fresh produce with the right food safety standards.

In the area of marketing, Mr. Fulton said RADA’s Competitiveness Funding Project financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will be playing a key role in this area. Officers are currently being trained on how to penetrate markets. Their job will be to identify Jamaica’s competitive edge and determine the best times of year to push certain products on the foreign market.

Dr Derrick Deslandes who has carried out extensive studies of the foreign market, is lead consultant.

Meanwhile, RADA is currently conducting another survey to identify farmers who would be willing to pay to put in ponds to irrigate their crops. Ponds may either by of those compacted with clay or those that are lined.

“We now have an engineering unit in RADA ready to measure the water needs farmers relative to their crops and livestock needs,” said Mr. Fulton.

This project is being undertaken “as a deeper inroad into at harvesting which we are promoting as one effective means of drought mitigation,” he pointed out.

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