RADA pushes to get more farmers registered
THE Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is stepping up its drive for farmers to register with the Agricultural Business Information System (ABIS) as it continues efforts to tackle praedial larceny.
The authority has reported that there are currently over 167,278 registered farmers across Jamaica, and it has embarked on a campaign to get even more to get on board.
Registration of farmers began in the late 1990s through ABIS, which is the official means for the continuous registering of farmers nationally.
"ABIS was created to provide information to stakeholders in agriculture such as farmers, buyers, input suppliers and the government," RADA's CEO Lenworth Fulton told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
"The identification process enables us to have a group of specialists/agricultural producers/farmers at our fingertips to dispense, communicate and to deliver the technical services that are necessary in an agricultural system," he said.
Fulton explained that the benefits farmers receive from registering and possessing an identification card include: having an official means of identifying and validating their legitimacy; getting assistance in disaster relief claim to facilitate fair distribution of benefits; and help in praedial larceny prevention and export traceability.
Registration also assists farmers to access import duty concession; qualify farmers to access the agricultural produce receipt books; and facilitates the police in verifying produce and vendors' purchases.
The RADA boss said that since April 1, 2014 there has been a resumption in the charges for farmers' identification cards, with a nominal fee of $350 being charged to offset
the production cost. "Registration of farmers is free but the production cost of the ID should adequately cover the Electoral Office of Jamaica and the RADA production costs, without creating an exceptional burden on the farmers," Fulton said. He pointed out that the ABIS registry is the driving force in stemming praedial larceny. Under the amended Agricultural Produce Act, all bona fide farmers will be required to utilise receipt books to conduct their transactions as it relates to the sale of farm produce to retailers and vendors. Farmers who are registered with the system will be able to access receipt books, which will be distributed by the Jamaica Agricultural Society.
The issuing of receipts can provide proof for a police officer who needs verification that the goods in the possession of a retailer or vendor were obtained through genuine means. Conversely, if the retailer is unable to produce such receipts, the goods may be seized.
For registration, farmers should visit RADA offices located in their farming community, where they will be required to fill out a form, provide basic information on farm holdings to include lands, crops, livestock and agricultural practices and have their photo taken. Data given by the farmer is later verified by the RADA officers through farm visits and stored with the ABIS.