Business

Farming is business, says RADA executive

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 24, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) parish manager for Manchester Samuel Harris says the growth of agriculture as an important driver of the economy, should be underpinned by good business practice and a desire by farmers to be "self sufficient".

"...It has been found that when agriculture grows...the economy grows...Many times (it is) the attitude of the farmers that make them a success," he said.

As the extension arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Harris said that his organisation interacts directly with farmers and assist in areas such as training.

He outlined the success of a female chicken farmer who RADA had initially assisted with chickens and feed. She then built her business by reinvesting.

She became a "bonafide" chicken farmer because she was committed to her business and did not "eat out the profit", Harris said.

He was speaking at the recent launch of a farming initiative by the relatively fledgling Manchester Dispute Resolution and Violence Prevention Association.

The body was formed in 2012 at the request of Central Manchester Member of Parliament and Minister of National Security Peter Bunting to address concerns about higher than average reports of domestic violence in the parish.

Chairman of the Association Pastor Michael Harvey told the gathering at the Georges Valley Community Centre that since inception, services have included the training of para-professional counsellors to act as first responders in communities, training in conflict management, parenting counselling and seminars for young men to be good fathers.

He said, however, that that there was a need to more adequately address issues which trigger violence.

"Not only were we willing to deal with these issues that affect our individuals but we know that these things did not occur in isolation. We decided that we as an association will provide tangible programmes that can benefit individuals...," said Harvey.

At a cost of approximately $250,000, a farming initiative was launched late last month with some of the funds lifted at the funeral service of late Mayor of Mandeville Cecil Charlton.

Fifteen farmers from the communities of Georges Valley, Albion, Cedar Grove, Richmond, Pear Tree, Blue Mountain, Grey Ground and Greenvale were the beneficiaries and will be working in groups in their respective areas to plant crops such as peanut, sorrel, ginger, tomato, sweet pepper, lettuce, pak choy, cucumber; and rear chickens.

"We also will be providing for them market.....and also we will be providing for them entrepreneurial training. The intent is that it be replicated," Harvey said.

The RADA parish manager said that he is very happy that the first initiative is in agriculture and encouraged the beneficiaries to be dedicated to building the specific business ventures in which they are engaged.

Bunting said that while financial resources are scare to undertake social interventions volunteerism can go a long way in getting things done and the right mindset of participants is also an important component.

"Whatever (the) financial aspect of grants in the farming initiative...., more important will be the training, more important is the mindset. If you don't have the right attitude, if you don't have the right values that cash will go through....like a dose of salt," he said

Superintendent of the Manchester Police Division Marlon Nesbeth lauded the multi-agency approach to assisting the police in handling domestic violence.

He said that the police are aware of the plight of farmers as it relates to praedial larceny and remain committed to fighting the problem.

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