JUNE 12, 2014
I am pleased that all of you have taken the time to attend this RADA Open Day. Let me first recognize Minister Roger Clarke for his very encouraging participation in the Budget Debate.
Minister, all of us who have agriculture at heart must have welcomed his report on the sector’s performance last year and his strong commitment to “Continuing the growth… going for export” in the future. We appreciate your effort. Although I could say “Amen” to most of what you said, I shall limit myself to affirming the following points you made:
- agriculture is the bedrock of the rural economy and support base for rural families;
- our tenacious and resilient small farmers are the drivers of growth in the agricultural sector;
- Agro-parks will be the game changer in the mission to increase Jamaica’s share in the global food market, and
- we must keep attracting youth to the sector if we want to expand agricultural production and continue to increase its contribution to national food security and to our economic development.
Here in the parish which is responsible for providing most of the food on our tables, I want to thank all our farmers who have battled with the hardships of nature, fluctuating market prices and the criminals who reap what they did not sow. You have always tried to bounce back quickly, ensuring that we can continue to “Eat what we grow… grow what we eat”.
I recall that last year at Denbigh, your champion cattle farmer, Dr. Karl Wellington, from the YS Farms won twelve first prizes and four second prizes before walking away with the trophy for the Champion Cattle Exhibitor.
I still remember the majestic champion bull, Louise Mystery, although to me it’s a mystery why he called that massive bull Louise. Seriously, though, what he has done is to prove St. Elizabeth’s dominance of the agricultural sector. I look forward to seeing you again at Denbigh this year in all your splendor!
I use this opportunity also to commend RADA, under the dynamic leadership of Lenworth Fulton, for the great job that you are doing here in St. Elizabeth and elsewhere across Jamaica.
RADA has strengthened the earning potential of our farmers and their families through the variety of projects you have implemented here, including:
- water harvesting
- pest management, and
- greenhouse production, among others.
Now, I anticipate an exciting tour of these booths which will prove once again our determination to make agriculture and agro-processing a critical aspect of Jamaica’s drive to boost productivity.
It is my pleasure to declare open this RADA Open Day in St. Elizabeth!