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HomeLatest NewsJamaican farmers must become more innovative and climate-smart, says minister Charles

Jamaican farmers must become more innovative and climate-smart, says minister Charles

By Garwin Davis

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Minister of agriculture and fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr., says the dangers of climate change make it even more important for Jamaica’s agricultural sector to become more innovative and “climate-smart”.

Speaking at the official launch of a hydroponics project at the Holland Primary School in St Elizabeth on February 23, the minister said that farming has become a lot more sophisticated and that farmers have to be “smart” and cognisant of the clear and present danger known as “climate change”.

“Even with the best of planning, nobody can predict what will happen tomorrow… whether it’s a hurricane or some other disaster,” he noted.

“In that regard we have to be smart and strategic… and this is where the Hydroponics technology comes into play,” the Minister added.

Hydroponics is an old agricultural technique that involves the growing of plants directly in water but has evolved into the production of plants without the use of soil as the growing medium. Plants are fed a constant balanced supply of essential nutrient elements, dissolved in a watery solution.

The concept, according to the minister, fits squarely with the government’s drive to encourage Jamaican householders to contain their food bills, by growing some of what they eat and eating more of what they grow.

“This project forms part of the government’s School Garden Programme, which increases the options for the production of vegetables within limited land space, and also, by extension, the idea of backyard gardening,” Charles Jr. said.

“So, what we are doing is providing several options, and here we have before us the grow box, which can be placed under a covered area and produce your vegetables. We are also now introducing the popular hydroponics, which is a very simple low-tech way of producing vegetables, using a water and fertiliser combination,” he added.

Charles Jr., said that it is his wish that “these techniques, together with the rearing of small ruminants and poultry”, would offer a package of options for the operation of school gardens, and to families and communities for a wider selection for food consumption.

Meanwhile, the minister said the ministry is encouraged by the number of young people, including women, who have been getting involved in agriculture.

“More than ever, more persons have been realising that agriculture can be a very lucrative career,” he added.

“With our various linkages, including the tourism sector, our farmers are seeing that the sector is viable and can provide a pathway for success. I am truly encouraged to see the increasing number of young persons that have been coming into the sector and seeing it as building a future for themselves and their families,” Charles Jr. said.

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