Additional office to serve farming communities in northern Manchester and Clarendon
Durrant Pate/ Contributor
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) continues to build out its extension services to farmers across Jamaica and is developing another field office.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Pearnel Charles Jr., who made the announcement during his sectoral debate presentation in parliament yesterday, confirmed that RADA has secured an additional location for its new field office. This field office is strategically positioned to expand RADA’s services across northern Manchester and Clarendon.
The location will be used to provide agriculture support facilities to farm stores, and agriculture extension services to farming communities in the area and to drive production, serving as a nexus in a high-level production area.
Minister Charles Jr. acknowledged that RADA has evolved and adapted over the last 32 years to meet the growing demands and needs of the farming population noting that the management is positioning the organization to be strategically aligned with the needs of expanding technologically driven farming communities.
RADA’s expanding support
This is being done by expanding RADA’s efforts to serve its stakeholders by providing additional opportunities for capacity building and improving its support across farming communities. In an effort to upscale RADA’s equipment pool, the Agriculture and Fisheries Minister announced that the authority has added six 130 horsepower (hp) rubber-wheel tractors, which have now been assigned to the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Ann, Manchester and St. Elizabeth.
It is expected that these new units will contribute to tillage operations for over 2,500 hectares per annum, benefiting over 6,000 farmers. In addition, RADA has enhanced its fleet even further with the addition of two backhoe loaders, under a recent initiative under the National Productivity Programme to assist with land preparation, cutting of drains, clearing operations and improving access to farms benefiting over 800 farmers and more than 2,000 hectares of farmlands.
RADA’s operational activities
During the last fiscal year 2022/2023, RADA expended J$2.50 billion on operational activities reflecting a 35% increase in allocation when compared to 2021-2022. This has assisted in bolstering the agricultural extension advisory services.
According to Minister Charles Jr. “the Authority (RADA) went on to see several achievements which steered the positive performance of the sector: Madam Speaker, the Authority has achieved a major milestone by attaining ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management System (QMS) Certification. Being ISO 9001 Certified means RADA has a QMS in place that utilizes international best practices to standardize its processes and systems using the ISO 9001:2015 standard to ensure that they consistently deliver services that meet and exceed our customer’s expectations.”
He admitted that RADA continues to operate the Agricultural Linkages Exchange Project (ALEX), which is a unique marketing tool for moving agricultural produce along the supply chain. This marketing platform has facilitated several successful linkages between farmers and traders within the tourism and gastronomy sectors.
During the 2022/2023 period, approximately 1.2 million kilograms of assorted agricultural produce was marketed with a total value of J$415 million, benefitting over 1,200 farmers. Overall RADA has facilitated market linkages of an assortment of over 4,900 tonnes of agricultural produce, valued at J$678 million, benefitting 3,173 farmers including women, youth and persons with disabilities.