Farmers shown benefits of crop coversSENIOR AGRONOMIST Stevenson Skeete (2nd left) explaining how the row cover is constructed to Minister Denis Lowe (c). (Donnay Deane)
Tue, May 29, 2012 - 12:00 AM
GOVERNMENT IS IN the process of sensitizing farmers to a new technology which should improve their production.
Staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment held the first workshop in Pilgrim Road, Christ Church, on Friday to teach farmers how to construct tropical row covers and about the benefits to be derived.
The workshop was held on site at Dwight “Andrew” Edghill’s farm. He has been using the system for close to a year and is already reaping the benefits.
“It makes a tremendous difference to production and the efficiency of production. It secures the plants from birds, which is most important. It also has a situation where you have a lot less pest management, because it is built to keep both pest and water out of the picture,” he told the DAILY NATION
He said he had harvested bigger sweet peppers and a higher quantity. He said for the first time they had been able to grow red and yellow sweet peppers, and were hoping the local yield would cut down on imports.
“This [the row cover] effectively gives farmers the opportunity to operate in the rainy season. The hardest thing for farmers is the period between September and the end of November, production is usually like 20 per cent of what you should be getting . . . . This allows farmers to be able to produce and be profitable,” Edghill said.
He said there were some flaws in the greenhouses and they were useless after a while because of fungus build-up, but the row covers were more durable and less expensive to produce and gave the same results.
Some of the farmers attending the field event queried whether Government would subsidize the cost of acquiring the covers. Lowe said it would have to be fitted in with existing concessions.
“The challenge is going to be to get the officials to assist the farmers in accessing those concessions, because that has been the challenge in agriculture where there had not been a fluid passage of concessions of Government . . . . ,” he said. (YB)
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