RADA making impact in St Elizabeth
Agriculture remains one of the most significant economic mainstays within St Elizabeth, and the more than 30,000 registered farmers in the parish have been ably guided in best practices by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
RADA's St Elizabeth Parish Agricultural Manager Nathan Samuels says that the parish has contributed more than 20.5 per cent of the total Gross domestic product in agriculture.
"For the year 2017-2018, we have produced in excess of 40 tonnes of vegetables, 35 tonnes of fruits, 15 tonnes of condiments, 15 tonnes of Irish potatoes, and in one season, yams and other tubers were 14,600 tonnes and legumes were more than 5,000 tonnes," Samuels said. "We have planted over the  period more than 15,000 hectares of crops and we have reaped over that same period more than 12,000 hectares of crops. This contributes more than $14.5 billion to the economy."
RADA has also been reaping success in the implementation of the ministry's Irish potato and onion production programmes in St Elizabeth.
Some 50 hectares of Irish potatoes were planted last spring and autumn, which have so far yielded more than 479 tonnes of the crop.
For the onion programme, approximately eight hectares of onions were planted this past spring by 30 farmers, and that has so far produced more than 11 tonnes of onions.
"We at RADA have recognised the importance of crop production and so we have constructed a greenhouse nursery at the RADA office where we are currently providing seedlings for sale," Samuels said.
"We have been doing tomatoes and sweet peppers. We are about to indulge in hot peppers, which is scotch bonnet and red peppers, and just recently we added to that a fruit tree crop nursery, where we are now making fruit tree seedlings available for sale to farmers in the parish," he added.
RADA also spearheads ongoing training for farmers in the various extension areas in Junction, Southfield, Malvern and Pedro Plains.
For the reported period 2018-2019, RADA has undertaken more than 259 training sessions.