JM | Mar 1, 2023

Opposition amplifies St Thomas onion farmer appeals for greater support from RADA

/ Our Today

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Lothan Cousins, Opposition spokesperson on agriculture and transport. (Photo: Facebook @PNP876)

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it is deeply concerned by the recent cries of onion farmers in St Thomas who have suffered crop losses resulting from a beet armyworm infestation, which they say, is attributable to a lack of crop management support from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

Lothan Cousins, Opposition spokesperson on agriculture and transport, is joining the calls by the onion farmers for greater intervention from RADA.

He recalled that recently, in the same parish and for the same crop, farmers displayed their displeasure at RADA for not fulfilling promises to supply productive inputs, primarily seeds and, in some instances, effective chemicals for pest control.

“With the pain of those broken promises displayed on national television, the farmers have yet again been left to tackle the beet armyworm infestation on their own”, Cousins said.

In the past, there was a beet armyworm infestation issue which resulted in millions of dollars of losses to farmers, some of whom have not recovered.

“With the intervention of RADA, it was thought that the issue had been terminated. The Opposition is disappointed that there has been no adequate policy intervention by the Government to achieve food security and that a comprehensive production programme for onion farmers in St Thomas has not been devised.”

Onions affected by beet armyworms.

Onion has been one of the targeted crops for import substitution and has benefitted from the various production incentive programmes for well over a decade.

“I am disheartened that the challenges encountered over this period, including beet armyworm infestation along with supporting prescriptive measures, have not been sufficiently documented, researched and communicated to our farmers,” Cousins added.

He also noted that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has been promoting the mantra of ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’, “yet, our premier agricultural extension agency, RADA, is unable to facilitate the farming community by introducing and implementing smart solutions to address the issues affecting our agricultural sector.”

The Opposition is therefore calling on the government to provide the necessary resources to support the onion farmers in St Thomas and also the other farmers that have traditionally produced quality onions in St Elizabeth, Trelawny, Clarendon, St Catherine and St Ann.


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