Hedda Pitter, Business Development Manager at Newport-Fersan, presents samples of its Potato-Lizer Starta and Finisha fertilizers, which are custom designed for the cultivation of Irish potatoes, to the Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, at a meeting with farmers in Devon, Manchester, on May 17. At right is Member of Parliament for North East Manchester, the Hon. Audley Shaw.
Using the model of the National Irish Potato Programme, Government will soon be rolling out a Scotch bonnet pepper programme utilising greenhouses in Devon, Manchester.
Addressing Irish potato farmers at a meeting held in Devon on Wednesday, May 17, Hon J.C. Hutchinson, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, said the greenhouses would be used to produce seedlings.
This Scotch bonnet programme, Minister Hutchinson said, will be similar to the National Irish Potato Programme in that farmers will receive seedlings and other inputs upfront, with payments being made when crops are reaped. In addition technical support will be provided by the various stakeholders, including the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and marketing support will be provided through the Potato and Onion Producers Association with whom farmers can enter into contractual arrangements.
Minister Hutchinson stated that in order for farmers to benefit from the programme they would need to be a member of an organisation and come under the umbrella of RADA. Each group will be required to select an agricultural aide for whom training will be provided. This, he said, would ensure that farmers engage in best practices in the cultivation of their crop.
Member of Parliament for North East Manchester, the Hon Audley Shaw, said he was happy for the introduction of Newport-Fersan’s Potato-Lizer fertilisers, which was custom designed for use on Irish potatoes. He encouraged the farmers to ensure that they play their part by putting in place the agricultural techniques to get the maximum yields possible.
Some 1,508 farmers have been involved in the planting of 352 hectares of Irish potato in Manchester of which 1,955 tonnes have been reaped to date. Overall, 3,431 farmers have planted 930 hectares of Irish potato across the island with 669 hectares reaped producing 10,831 tonnes of Irish potato.
“I think we can gradually increase our yields,” said Minister Shaw, while stating that the farmers’ presence at the meeting demonstrates their seriousness about farming. Noting that it was a partnership, Minister Shaw said the Government was committed to working with the farmers so that they can build wealth out of Irish potato and other cash crops.
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