Winston Simpson , chief executive officer (CEO) of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has lamented the importance of organisations such as the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers (JNRWP) are important in addressing how women are marginalised in the agriculture sector.
“Women are so marginalised generally and in particular in the agriculture sector. For example, if a woman goes into a bank to get a loan for agriculture, it is almost impossible if a man’s name is not attached to it. If they do get the loan, they get half of it. Most persons don’t know that. The cry is not just in Jamaica, it is also international, he said, highlighting that RADA finds it critical to focus on building social capital through assisting farmers’ organisations like the JNRWP in capacity building among other things.
Simpson was speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day BOND Learning Guide for Trainers Workshop hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at the Medallion Hall hotel in St. Andrew on Monday (May 22).
The three-day workshop is being held under the theme, “Empowering Farmers and their Organizations through the Creation of Social Capital”, and is being coordinated by the JNRWP.
The BOND approach encourages farmers and their groups to form associations to facilitate information exchange and benefit from learning experiences and effective practices that advance sustainable agriculture.
“It must be noted that the RADA has registered a little over 240,000 farmers in which one third of that are women and we continue to make sure that more women are included,” said Simpson.
“When I just joined RADA 30 odd years ago, the woman population was a mere 10 per cent and now it is at 60 per cent. We realise the importance of recognising this partnership, recognising women, and to empower them to improve their social capital and to make sure that our production, our productivity can be enhanced,” he added.
Former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, shared in Simpson’s sentiments at the event and highlighted the necessity of inclusivity for women in the sector.
“Getting a seat for the rural women organisation at the table at RADA and across the board was an easy conversation because I have never been subject to the thinking of any kind of vulnerability because I grew up with four very strong sisters and a very strong mother. In implementing something as simple as that, we see the benefit from the wider range of analysis that comes from having a strong female leader at the table,” he said.
“I want to make sure that even beyond ministerial direction, that in everything we do, we think that way. We need to make sure that this sector is as inclusive as it can be,” Charles Jr added.
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