St Thomas farmers receive ‘farming as a business’ training
Farmers of the Needham Pen Farmers Association in St Thomas are now more equipped to operate their farms as viable businesses, after receiving key knowledge and training in this regard.
Under a partnership between the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and Commonwealth of Learning, 24 farmers successfully completed an eight-week ‘Farming as a Business’ training programme earlier this year.
Twenty of them were on hand to receive their certificates at a graduation ceremony held last Thursday (September 15) at the Needham Pen Seventh Day Adventist Church in the parish.
Addressing the event, Parish Agricultural Manager for RADA, Bevene Martin-Dickenson, commended the farmers for taking advantage of the training opportunity afforded to them by the partnership.
She implored them to continue playing their part in enhancing food security and to exemplify the principles of the ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’ national campaign.
Throughout the training, the farmers were exposed to topics such as record keeping, marketing, post-harvest management, cost of production and formalising a business.
Keynote speaker at the ceremony and former RADA Parish Agricultural Manager, Caswell Glover, underscored the importance of managing the farm as an enterprise, noting that, “if you are farming (only) because you love it, you should leave it.”
He said that in order to increase earnings, farming should entail diversification and value-added production.
He noted, for example, that farmers who produce fresh meats such as chicken, pork and beef, could also make ham and jerked products to increase profits.
An agro-processor, who produces breadfruit, banana, plantain and cassava chips, breadfruit and banana flour, fruit wines and juices, and dried fruit snacks, Mr. Glover told the farmers that they should no longer refer to their farms as “bush” but rather, their place of business.
In their testimonials, some of the members of the group expressed their appreciation for the training and said that they are already seeing more revenue due to their newfound knowledge and the ability to make better business decisions.
Special awards were handed out for full attendance, most improved farmer, and the most outstanding young female and male farmers.
Through RADA, the farmers will continue to have access to technical information and agricultural assistance. The agency had also provided water tanks, seeds, and fertilisers to the grateful group.
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