The establishment of demonstration plots in St. Elizabeth and Manchester to find workable solutions regarding the “watermelon situation” has started and is now in high gear.
The situation of watermelons being rotten or hollow on the inside while appearing healthy and robust on the outside was experienced by some farmers beginning as early as 2020. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority have collaborated with stakeholders to include T Geddes Grant, Newport Fersan and H& L Agro to organize demonstration plots and trainings to expose farmers to agricultural best practices in watermelon production from planting to harvesting based on the crop cycle.
The trainings include topics such as: Crop Nutrition, Pest Identification, Pest Management, Water Management among others. The main aim of the demonstration plots and training series is to allow for clarity in the explanation of the “watermelon situation” and allow for increased efficiencies and productivity as farmers will work with technical experts to meticulously monitor every aspect of the production process.
Mr. Winston Shaw, Senior Director Division of Training, Technology and Technical Information along with Mr. Berland Bates, Manager On-Farm Irrigation and team visited the demonstration plot at Flagaman, St. Elizabeth on April 13, 2022 to expose the farmers within the community and surrounding areas on the uses and benefits of precise irrigation and the technologies used to achieve this goal.
The tensiometer, a simple yet effective device used to measure water levels in soil was introduced to farmers at the recent training. A step –by- step practical demonstration was given along with insights on the tool being used to save costs and improving results. This tool has been installed and used at all demonstration plots to provide an accurate indication as to when to irrigate and how much water to apply throughout the crop cycle.