Yam farmers upset
TRELAWNY — Angry and disappointed that a proposed mini-sett yam project is seven months behind schedule, yam farmers in South Trelawny have demanded answers from their Member of Parliament, Doreen Chen.
But according to Chen, the blame rests with the agriculture ministry.
“The project has been delayed because we have not received the funds that were promised from the Ministry of Agriculture,” Chen told the Observer.
She said this has caused her much embarrassment as she was hoping that by now the project would have started.
Early last year, Chen announced in Parliament that farmers in her constituency would benefit from a $6-million yam project, which she said, would start in July 2000.
Immediately after the announcement the Rural Agricultural Development Authority identified the lands to be used; and farmers were selected and trained to participate in the much-anticipated project.
Under the Ministry of Agriculture funded project, 25 farmers would each get a one-acre plot of land. These plots would be used to cultivate yams using the mini-sett technology.
The one-acre plots were then to be used as nurseries to supply farmers in the area with seedlings; while officials from RADA were charged with closely monitoring the farmers.
But now, seven months later, the project is still not off the ground.
“We were looking forward to the commencement of the project and it is sad to know that up to now it has not started,” said yam farmer and Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Lorrimers division, Steve Warren.
He maintained that the yam farmers’ plight has been an ongoing source of concern.
According to him, they have been losing money over the years as a result of the reluctance of exporters to buy yams that are grown traditionally; hence the importance of introducing the new method in the area.
“The exporters prefer to buy the yams that are grown using the mini-sett technology,” Warren said.
According to RADA parish manager for Trelawny, Bernard Goffe, the advantages of growing yams using the mini-sett technology far outweigh that of growing the tuber using the traditional method.
He pointed out that exporters prefer to buy the mini-sett variety of yam because of its small size and weight.
In the meanwhile, the yam farmers say the failure to start the mini-sett project is just one of the many burning issues they will be taking to agriculture minister, Roger Clarke, at the scheduled “face to face” meeting in Albert Town, next week.