Agriculture Minister Signs Technical Assistance Agreement with FAO
Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke has signed a US$453,000 technical assistance agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for the provision of drip and sprinkle irrigation systems to selected farming communities and training in the use of the systems.
The provision was made under the FAO's Regional Special Programme for Food Security at the Country Level, which is aimed at enabling food security in households in the Caribbean by removing some of the major constraints to efficient agricultural production in each territory.
As part of the agreement, the farmers will receive instruction in crop development and land husbandry, while the Agriculture Ministry will benefit from the expertise of four FAO technicians, who will assist in building capacity in relation to irrigation and crop management activities.
Minster Clarke, in his address at the signing held at his offices at Hope Gardens in Kingston, stated that the allocation would provide for the installation of state of the art irrigation systems to boost production for agro-processing industries and community markets at the Vineyards in St. Catherine; Faith's Pen in St. Ann; Morant in Clarendon and Spring Gardens in Portland.
The areas were chosen based on soil quality and the fact that water sources had been identified for irrigation purposes, Mr. Clarke said.
He noted further, that the provision of equipment would address water management issues faced by the farmers and facilitate a consistent supply of crops for targeted markets by making out of season production possible. He said that based on preliminary assessment, the provision of the irrigation systems should increase crop yield by as much as 70 per cent in the targeted areas.
"The increased production facilitated by these irrigation systems is not only integral to economically sustainable agriculture, but also to the twin issues of food security and poverty alleviation to which Jamaica as a member of the FAO is committed," the Agriculture Minister stated.
Miss Hanna Clarendon, FAO local representative, explained that the regional project had three broad components - trade facilitation by enhancing smallholder agricultural production, productivity and marketing, and food policy development.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is the implementing agency for the FAO project locally.
The FAO is a United Nations organization established to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.
The regional project costs US$26.2 million and will end by 2008.
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