Farmers have been making good use of the rebates for greenhouses and new crop technology available at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management.

That is the word from Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Crop Production, Dr. Dennis Blackman, who said some 100 farmers had applied for those rebates since August 2001 and received over $900,000 from government.

He was speaking during the third in a series of farmers’ workshops on How to Build Tropical Row Covers at Brereton, St. Philip last Friday.

"Over 100 farmers have applied for rebates in crop technology which would be greenhouses and hydroponic systems, which we consider to be new technology… We are seeing the results of that now because more and more famers are getting involved in these new technologies," he said.

Dr. Blackman, however, urged farmers to properly test any new technology or methodology which they were seeking to introduce to ensure it was feasible and effective.

"As a farmer, anytime there is new technology, you should study it carefully before implementing it. We want you to study and research them well before you set them up to ensure that they do not fail…You do not even have to do it alone because you can get advice from the Ministry of Agriculture," he advised.

The workshop was a collaborative effort between the Ministries of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management and the Environment and Drainage.

Tropical row covers are protective materials placed above crops on a supporting framework often on wire hoops to form a low tunnel and usually left in place until the crops are grown.

The advantages of such structures include: protection from adverse heat, cold and wind, and a reduction in the incidence of pest damage. ??Row covers are flexible and may be moved around easily; promote increased moisture and humidity; increased yield and crop quality; and the cost of implementing row covers is much lower than installing a full greenhouse. They are also quite easy to construct, set up and manage.


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