FAO in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

Mt Airy Farmer's Group laud project as they graduate a Farmer Field School on Drip Irrigation

Mt Airy Farmer's Group President, Euxan Smith collects certificate from RADA representatives

On November 30, 2020, thirty-six farmers graduated from a 10-week Farmer Field School on Gravity Drip Irrigation under a Joint United Nations project.

The Farmer Field School forms a part of a wider intervention to strengthen human resilience in North Clarendon and West Kingston. Funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, the project is being implemented by several United Nations offices in Jamaica, including FAO, and the Government of Jamaica. The project, which started in 2018, has since delivered much needed hope for farmers in the Mt Airy district of Clarendon.

Under the programme, the farmers have benefitted from drip irrigation and fertigation systems through support from FAO and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). These systems have significantly reduced their reliance on purchasing water and dealing with prolonged periods of drought. To date, the farmers have reported yearlong yields as a result of the project which has in turn significantly improved their livelihoods.

The Farmer Field School, delivered over the 10-week period by RADA, has had a huge impact on the farmers who now have a better understanding of record keeping, handling pests, and farm management.

Mr Euxan Smith, President of the Mt Airy Farmers Group remarked that he was looking forward to the Graduation as the Farmer Field School had been “a wonderful experience that taught us how to scout our ground, and be better able to identify and manage pests.” He added that the programme also helped them in determining a better planting pattern to ensure there is less glut or overburden of the same produce in the markets.

One of the best lessons from the Farmer Field School was the importance of record keeping, remarked Mr Smith. He highlighted that this has helped them in keeping track of their expenditure and the amount of money spent on inputs to determine areas where there are incidences of loss and better manage those areas.

Our Farmers are our Food Heroes, however, they often times don’t recognize it. An unexpected result from the project has been the recognition of a farmer’s importance within society. Mr Smith pointed out that as a farmer for over 30 years, being a part of the project was the first time he had truly felt and recognized his importance in society as a farmer.

“Being a farmer, you feel left out and although food is the main source of life, sometimes you don’t see that value and place that value upon yourself. Since the project has started, we have recognized that we are important to society", said Mr Smith, “we take even more pride in what we are doing, now we have a passion for growth”.

The Mt Airy Farmer’s Group is a stronger family as a result of this intervention and now they have graduated as trained farmers in good agricultural practices needed to drive their businesses, moving forward on their motto- "Outgoing fear and failure, bearing fruits of confidence and success.”