Mon | May 27, 2024

No help for small farmers

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2024 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Approximately one year ago, two of my siblings and I decided to venture into food crop farming on two acres of land in the Wigton area of south Manchester.

One of my siblings was registered with RADA a long time ago but never approached them for any advice or assistance over the years, as he had not yet decided whether he would be going into farming. He, however, registered in the event that he had decided to do so.

His registration was such a long time ago that we thought they would no longer have his name in the system. We decided to check the status of his registration and surprisingly, his name was still there. I was happy to know, as RADA has been promoting how much they provide help to small farmers in providing tractors to assist with the plowing of the land and assistance with fertilisers and other needed help for farmers.

So, being excited about that, we went down to the RADA office in Mandeville to check out the availability of a tractor and to make an appointment for its use. To my disappointment, I was told that there is only one tractor available to farmers in Manchester which was out of service with no timeline for its repair and availability.

We were also told that even if it was available, we would be on a very long waiting list to access the service. Furthermore, we would have to pay approximately $25,000 for the services, which I thought being a registered farmer that we could get these benefits for free or at least at a significantly reduced price.

It ended up that we had to pay a private tractor operator to do the job for $35,000 and that was highly negotiated.

My next disappointment was that the impression was being given by the authorities that registered farmers could get fertilisers from RADA free of cost, but this has turned out to be a fallacy. When we went to enquire about getting fertilisers for our crops, we were told by the RADA extension officer for the area that only eight bags of fertiliser were given to him to be distributed to farmers in the area.

There are a larger number of registered small farmers in that area so how on earth could eight bags of fertiliser be adequate for distribution?

This is the contempt the authorities have for small farmers. There is no real help for farmers who toil so hard to provide food for the nation. This is why the price of ground provisions is so expensive and out of the reach of ordinary people.

The authorities are not serious about helping farmers, it is just all lip service.

AUBYN PERKINS

Mandeville, Manchester