The Full Story
One hundred and seventy-two farmers from St. Ann, with the majority being women, have successfully graduated from a Farmer Field School training programme, spearheaded by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
The inaugural training initiative, which was supported by the HEART/NSTA Trust and the Jamaica Bauxite Management Limited (JBM), aimed to empower local farmers with essential skills and knowledge to enhance their agricultural practices.
Held at Moneague College, St. Ann, on September 7, the graduation ceremony observed the theme ‘Embracing Agriculture, Celebrating Farmers’.
The farmers, who were drawn from the communities of Drumily, Bensonton, Prickly Pole, Brown’s Town, Cascade, Aboukir, Nine Miles, Seville, Faiths Pen, White Hall and Walkerswood, received certificates in sustainable agricultural production and as Fire Wardens.
The curriculum primarily involved hands-on training, which included working on demonstration plots.
Spanning several months, the training programme covered a wide range of topics crucial for modern agricultural practices. Participants learned about crop and soil fertility management, harvest and post-harvest management, pest control, sustainable farming techniques, and the effective use of technology in agriculture.
Additionally, they received guidance on marketing their produce, improving crop yields, agro-business management, farm and personal safety measures, and land preparation.
Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Courtney Cole, who represented portfolio Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, at the graduation ceremony, commended the graduates for their commitment to improving the agricultural sector in St. Ann.
“Farmers, I must congratulate you today for gaining useful practical knowledge as well as certification to improve productivity. Let me inform you that this knowledge that you have amassed is invaluable and the effort you spent away from your businesses was worthwhile,” he said.
Mr. Cole further said the areas of study would redound to the holistic development of the farmers and propel them to become “well-rounded entrepreneurs”.
He said he expects the farmers to implement the knowledge gained during the training, to improve crop yields, increase food security, and build a stronger agricultural community in St. Ann.
For her part, Managing Director of JBM, Donna Marie Howe, said the entity was pleased to join hands with RADA and HEART/NSTA Trust to support the programme financially.
“Our collaboration extends beyond being the key sponsors. It reflects our shared vision to be integral in the well-being of the sustainable and economic development of St Ann,” Mrs. Howe said.
She announced that the entity will be providing 10 acres of land “as an incentive to RADA” for the continuation of the Farmer Field School programme and its sustainability.
“As we move forward, JBM’s focus will be on enhancing the value chain of this programme. Our collaboration with RADA will support their mandate of agriculture advancement by providing arable land,” she said.
In his remarks, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), RADA, Winston Simpson, congratulated the farmers for taking the bold step to improve their agricultural skillset, noting the knowledge they have gained will go a far way in boosting their productivity and economic growth.
Expressing gratitude on behalf of the farmers, Oral Salve, said their newfound skills would undoubtedly contribute to the sustainability of agriculture in St. Ann
“We will use this knowledge to be better farmers, improve our farming skills, so we can be more productive,” he said.