Davis wants greater RADA input in farming out west
State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Homer Davis, says technical officers aligned to the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) are not providing the kind of support local farmers need to strengthen their capacity to further grow the agricultural sector.
Davis, who was addressing patrons at the annual Montpelier Agricultural Show in St James on Easter Monday, says farmers in southern St James – where he is the sitting member of parliament – are still using outdated farming methods, which is limiting their capacity.“Too often, when I visit my farmers I see them struggling to produce. I see them struggling to adopt new techniques and when I say to them why are you struggling like this? Have you not been in touch with your RADA area supervisors? They say to me sometimes that ‘all two years we do not see them’,” said Davis.
He believes that things will only improve for the farmers if they begin to embrace the ‘grow smart, eat smart’ philosophy, which is being promoted by the ministry of agriculture as key to creating a vibrant and sustainable sector. Davis says many of the farmers are further peeved at the long wait periods to receive RADA-issued farmers’ identification cards. “They also said to me that they were encouraged to register and ‘sometimes, for months we can’t get our RADA IDs’,” said Davis. “And the reason why I raised that issue with the minister [state minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Franklin Witter] is in order for the local RADA office to give support to a farmer… The requirement is that they must have a RADA identification, so they can account and to do some traceability as to ...whether or not the benefits that they are getting is really going in the right way.”
Davis says he hopes to see much more interaction between RADA and the farmers because if the sector is to flourish, the farmers need to get the support needed so that they can become better at what they do.
“These are some things that I would love to see, more or a closer connection between the RADA officers and the farmers,” said Davis. “I know it can be done where we have a designated day, probably once, every two or three months that you go into a particular area and the farmers must be aware of that.”
“That is the day that they will have to be at their farm or to be at a particular location where some of the challenges that they are facing can be expressed to the technical person at RADA,” added Davis.