Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Green kicks off backyard gardening campaign

Published:Saturday | February 20, 2021 | 12:14 AM
Locksley Waites (centre), an agronomist with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, demonstrates different methods of doing backyard farming to Agriculture Minister Floyd Green (left) and St Catherine South Eastern Member of Parliament Robert Miller
Locksley Waites (centre), an agronomist with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, demonstrates different methods of doing backyard farming to Agriculture Minister Floyd Green (left) and St Catherine South Eastern Member of Parliament Robert Miller yesterday. The occasion was the launch of the ministry’s backyard gardening programme at the HEART College of Construction Services in Portmore, St Catherine.

Jamaicans living in urban and suburban communities are being encouraged to dig into the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ backyard gardening programme, which is looking to boost vegetable production and increase consumption of locally grown foods.

The ministry is offering 2,500 backyard gardening starter kits, for which persons have until February 28 to apply online. Each kit contains a small gardening fork and shovel, along with three packets of assorted vegetable seeds, a seeding tray, potting mix and fertiliser.

During Friday’s launch at the HEART College of Construction Services in Portmore, St Catherine, Agriculture Minister Floyd Green explained that the selection process would be open and transparent and beneficiaries selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the young and elderly given preference.

“We are targeting urban and semi-urban spaces [and] we are going to be distributing the kits across all the parishes, targeting our youth and the elderly. There will be a distribution schedule where we have a set amount of kits for each parish,” the minister said.

The online applications must be submitted to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) website at rada.gov.jm, providing name, address and contact information, along with other relevant information. Once the selection process is completed, the beneficiaries will be contacted and directed to pick up their packages at their RADA parish office.

“If you are first in line and you fulfil the very limited criteria, then you will get a backyard gardening kit,” Green said in encouraging Jamaicans to take up the challenge to drive down the food import bill of almost US$1 billion, while doing themselves a favour by eating fresh, wholesome, affordable Jamaican produce.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com