JAM | Feb 19, 2023

Agriculture ministry pushes drone technology to ramp up production in the sector

/ Our Today

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Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (right), reaps onion on a farm in Yallahs, St. Thomas. Observing are (from right) State Minister, Franklin Witter; St. Thomas Parish Manager, RADA, Bevene Martin-Dickenson and Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), RADA, Winston Simpson. (Photo: Contributed)

The Agricultural ministry says drone technology is a viable way to ramp up food production in light of a dwindling labour force and build resilience in the sector.

Speaking during a tour of onion farms in St. Thomas on Thursday (February 16), Minister pf Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr. encourages investment in the drone technology from interested parties and highlighted that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is investing in two drones to assist farmers with irrigation.

Charles said: “We want persons to come in and make the investment. I think it’s a really good business. It will support small farmers and larger farmers, and most importantly, that’s what ‘Grow Smart’ is about – more efficiency [and] better production.”

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (centre), and Chief Strategic Officer, Environmental Solutions Limited, Stephen Jones (left) listen to a comment from Director of Agriculture and Fisheries at Food For the Poor, Nakhle Hado (right), just before viewing a demonstration of a drone irrigating an onion farm in St. Thomas, during a tour of the parish. (Photo: Contributed)

A free-of-cost exercise by Environmental Solutions Limited (ESL), demonstrated the completion of spraying of one acre, a task that usually takes hours be completed in minutes.

Winston Simpson, acting CEO of RADA said, “the labour force in the agriculture sector is dwindling, and so while we look at ‘Grow Smart, Eat smart’ we have to improve our technology. By using drones, we intend to ramp up production.”

The agricultural sector saw a 9.9 per cent increase in domestic crop production in 2022. 846,508 tonnes of crops were produced for the year compared to 770,456 tonnes in 2021. The use of drones will spur further expansion.


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