Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jamaica goverment communication system to protect farmers against exploitation.

"(...),in many instances the farmers earn very little when compared to what the middlemen earn."

"(...).we found out that the margins are just too wide - sometimes as much as 700 per cent," Dr Tufton said."

"The ministry intends to begin a process where we are going to provide information to our farmers using a 1-800 number that will soon be launched, using the public media, using the electronic media if we have to, using the services of RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) to conduct weekly surveys of farm gate prices in each parish, as well as the retail outlets, and publish the prices wherever we believe that there is gross manipulation of the farmer by the middlemen,"







Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (right) examines a bottle of preservative at the Home Economics booth of the Falmouth branch of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), during the 45th staging of the Hague Agriculture and Livestock Show on Wednesday, while RADA's Home Economics officer Lillieth James, and Mayor of Falmouth Colin Gager look on. (Photo: Mark Cummings)
Grant was reacting to Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton's



JAS backs agri ministry's plan to halt farmer exploitation

MARK CUMMINGS, Observer senior reporter cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
"JAMAICAN OBSERVER", THE CARIBBEAN NEWSPAPER.

Click here:http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/
HAGUE, Trelawny - The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) says it supports Government's plan to prevent middlemen from exploiting the island's farmers.
"The JAS endorses the move by the Ministry of Agriculture. In fact, it is out of that very observance by the JAS that we had taken the initiative to do a business plan in order to implement a structured marketing system where the farmers would be a part of the thrust to market their own produce," JAS president Senator Norman Grant told the Observer last Friday.

Grant was reacting to Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton's announcement at the Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show Wednesday that his ministry is soon to embark on an initiative that would prevent middlemen from exploiting farmers.
"The ministry intends to begin a process where we are going to provide information to our farmers using a 1-800 number that will soon be launched, using the public media, using the electronic media if we have to, using the services of RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) to conduct weekly surveys of farm gate prices in each parish, as well as the retail outlets, and publish the prices wherever we believe that there is gross manipulation of the farmer by the middlemen," he said.
He argued that while the middlemen play an important role in the marketing of the farmers' produce, in many instances the farmers earn very little when compared to what the middlemen earn.
"A few months ago when we looked at the farm gate price being paid for agricultural produce and at the same time compared it with prices for the same produce grown locally in the supermarkets and other retail outlets, we found out that the margins are just too wide - sometimes as much as 700 per cent," Dr Tufton said.
The wide margin in the prices, he argued, was due mainly to the
manipulation of the process by some middlemen who, he said, are more knowledgeable of the market conditions than the farmers.
According to Dr Tufton, the manipulation of the farmers is prevalent in sections of Trelawny, as oftentimes yam farmers are paid "a little" for their produce.
"Right now in Trelawny the average yam farmer is making between $3,500 and $4,000 per 100 pounds of yam. But when the middleman comes to purchase yam from the farmers he is asking them not to give him 100 pounds, but sometimes he want 140 pounds for the equivalent of 100 pounds, so what that means is that the poor farmer is giving a discount of up to 40 per cent. The farmer is literally giving free labour to the middleman who has not put in any effort in preparing and growing the crop," he explained.
Added Tufton: "This is dishonest, it is immoral and wrong, and the ministry intends to work with the farmers through RADA to take action to ensure that the farmers get a fair price for their produce."
Grant, in the meanwhile, told the Observer that the concern had long been raised by the JAS.
"We share that concern. It is a concern that has been identified, coming out of a study that the JAS did about six years ago, and a position that has still not been corrected," he argued.

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