Green insists drones will lead to smarter agricultureSunday, June 27, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green has said that the ministry will continue with its plan to buy drones to bolster its extension services.
“We are purchasing four drones that we will use across Jamaica in our extension services to help our farmers do more precision-based agriculture. These are not just drones to take pictures, these are drones that can assess the heat, stress level of your plants, and can help you in relation to water [and] fertiliser,” said Green.
Speaking at the Young Women and Men of Purpose (YWOP/YMOP) REAP Agri-Tech Entrepreneurship Symposium at Neil's Auditorium last Thursday, Green reiterated the benefits of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to captur data.
“That is where agriculture is now. Agriculture is about a man [using] a drone and saying 'Listen, I don't need to water my entire field because only half of the field [is] under stress, so I can save on my investment in water by just watering those plants that [are in] need at this present time,' ” he said.
“A part of what we are trying to do is to infuse technology in our extension services,” he added.
Green said the ministry is focusing on the new face of agriculture through new technologies and youth entrepreneurship.
“A part of what we are doing is really helping to craft the new face of agriculture. We want people to take a different look at agriculture and fisheries, based on the people who are now engaged in the space… The new face of food is not just about the physical appearance of those who engage in agriculture and fisheries, [it] focuses on food security, agrobusiness, incorporating-climate smart technologies and ensuring that we are expanding exports,” Green said.
“This programme directly aligns with what we are trying to do, because a part of what we are trying to ensure is that the new face of agriculture, youth, is essential and also that youth are choosing agriculture,” he said.
Meanwhile, founder and executive director of YWOP/YMOP Lanisia Rhoden said 30 agriculture-based entrepreneurs benefited from the US Embassy-funded REAP Agri-Tech Entrepreneurship Programme.
“We were able to extend the number of beneficiaries from 20 to 30 and extend the programme to agri-tech entrepreneurs across Jamaica by offering $100,000 each to 10 entrepreneurs,” she said.
“The agri-tech entrepreneurs were engaged in virtual training for nine weeks in the areas of entrepreneurship and business management, agrotechnology, farm and supply chain management, financial management and market,” she added.
Green lauded Rhoden and her team for launching the initiative as he described agriculture as “a viable choice”.
“Agriculture now doesn't mean you are going out into a field with a fork. Those days are gone. We still have farmers who are doing that but the reality is that we have to keep up with the times, and now we have so many who are working in agriculture without using soil at all,” said Green.
“One of my top young farmers grows in his back room [where] he has a full, vertical hydroponic system, growing vegetables [mostly lettuce] that he sells to the supermarkets in and around his community,” added Green.