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Supply stores urged to partner with gov't in assisting farmers

Friday, April 21, 2017

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Farm supply stores are being urged to partner with the government to provide technical assistance to farmers in a bid to boost the country’s agricultural outputs.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, who made the call, said the “Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) alone cannot do the job”.
“With 220,000 farmers (and) 120 extension officers... there is no way that RADA can by itself effectively deal with every single farmer,” he noted.
He was speaking at the ceremony for the rebranding of the St Jago Farm and Hardware Supplies Limited at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St Catherine on Wednesday.
Stanberry said providing technical assistance, including advice and products, will further expand the agricultural sector, which registered growth of 12 per cent last year.
“It’s... providing them (farmers) with the kind of services, the kind of hand-holding that they require and being the channel to infuse new technology,” he pointed out.
He commended St Jago Farm and Hardware Supplies Limited for the critical role it has been playing in the lives of farmers. He noted that the entity has been working with the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine to develop new varieties of products that will assist the sector.
 “This is the kind of partnership that this country needs to make it work for everybody. It is more than just your bottom line, and I think you can be justly proud when you see not only your profit going up and, in the process, farmers really making money, and that is what we want,” he said.
He noted that the success of the St Jago Farm and Hardware Supplies Limited has been built on good customer service and the provision of technical advice.
The permanent secretary, in the meantime, said the government will continue to boost the funds provided to RADA to better enable the entity to provide the critical services needed to support the country’s farmers.
“A robust extension service is absolutely critical, and that is why the government has put so many resources into RADA. RADA commands probably half of the Ministry’s budget. I have seen, in my 11 years at the ministry, RADA’s budget moving from $600 million to $800 million and now it is at almost $1. 2 billion,” he noted.
For his part, Managing Director, St Jago Farm and Hardware Supplies Limited, O’Brien Johnson, said the store, which opened its doors in 1979, will continue to supply agricultural inputs and technical advice to the farming community.
He said the rebranding includes a new logo and tagline, and values, vision and mission statements.
He noted that the entity is willing to invest more in staff training in order to continue delivering high-quality service to farmers.