In Jamaica, agriculture is being targeted for modernisation through the more effective use and application of ICTs. The small island state with a population of 2.75 million is moving towards systems and processes that deliver a reliable stream of data, information and applications to integrate planning, production, distribution, and monitoring activities.
This, in turn, will go far to develop a market-driven, efficient and sustainable agricultural sector.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), a statutory body under Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, expends considerable resources to collect production data in the field and provide extension services to the island’s over 159,000 registered farmers. RADA has 211 field staff (extension officers and agricultural assistants) to serve the farmers, an approximate ratio of 1:750. ‘That is overwhelming,’ explains Maurice L. McNaughton, director of the Centre of Excellence at the Mona School of Business & Management (MSBM) of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, ‘particularly if you consider rough terrain, insufficient travel allowances, and inadequate means of transportation.’