Agriculture ministry's incentive programme an opportunity to improve island's food security, says farmer

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Agriculture ministry's incentive programme an opportunity to improve island's food security, says farmer

Friday, August 28, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — For 30-year-old hot pepper farmer, Carlos Williams, participation under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries' (MICAF) Production Incentive Programme (PIP) represents an opportunity to improve Jamaica's food security.

“This is a very important programme. It will not only increase food production, but will help to feed a lot of people in communities across Jamaica,” he said.

Williams is from Canaan district in Dumfries, St James, and has been farming for the past three years.
He is one of 650 farmers, mainly from the parishes of Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, Manchester, St Thomas, St Ann and St Mary, growing hot peppers under the PIP with an expected 3,000 tonnes to be reaped for the 2020/21 crop year.

Williams, who specialises in growing Scotch Bonnet pepper and has two acres of land under production, also emphasised that the programme is relevant, especially at a time when a sense of assurance is needed that there is enough food available for consumption.

Since his involvement in the programme, Williams has reaped more than 150 tonnes of Scotch Bonnet pepper, which is one of two peppers used in the fresh and export market.

He credits his success in the business of farming to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), which is the agency of MICAF implementing the $1.6-billion Production Incentive Programme.

Under the PIP, participating farmers received best practices training from RADA through meetings and field demonstrations.

RADA has also provided support by distributing planting materials, agricultural chemicals such as insecticides and fungicides, plastic mulch, irrigation and spraying equipment.

Outside of hot peppers, the PIP also targets crops such as ginger, dasheen, Irish potatoes, onion, sweet yam, strawberry and cassava for development with over 4,000 farmers expected to benefit, directly and indirectly.

Aside from growing hot peppers, Williams also plants a number of other crops, including 700 banks of yellow yam and an acre of sweet potato, and employs three workers to assist him

“These are the additional crops I have on a larger scale. I have other crops that I grow on a much smaller scale though to help finance the larger ones. There is also okra, cocoa and corn,” he pointed out.

Williams also plans to focus his attention on livestock with the recent completion of a chicken coop to house 3,500 broiler chickens, which, he noted, will be filled “by the latest October”.

The St James farmer believes his outlook for the future is bright and is encouraging other farmers to be a part of the ministry's Production Incentive Programme.

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