Protected Agriculture in Jamaica: A Reference Manual
Protected agriculture technology includes more traditional style greenhouses as well as high tunnel houses and is the central component in the establishment of a more unified strategy for continued growth in the country’s agriculture sector. The sustainability of such development will essentially rely on the effective transfer of knowledge. This manual is designed to build the knowledge base of the Jamaican agricultural extension service, the Rural Agriculture Development Authority (RADA), so that it in turn can provide support and training to the members of Jamaica’s burgeoning agricultural sector.
Incorporated into this manual are North American concepts, the local Jamaican experience, and lessons learned from Central America to provide the most up-to-date knowledge and technology currently available. The manual has undergone extensive reviews by expert local practitioners, agriculturalists, researchers and academics. A Curriculum Review Committee was established comprising of local growers, agriculture officials from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), RADA officers and overseas specialists in the United States of America and Canada. This committee provided invaluable feedback to ensure that the content of this manual is suitable for the Jamaican context.
The Protected Agriculture Training Manual serves to close the present gap in knowledge and technology transfer in three ways:
- It serves as a single repository of knowledge, best practices and lessons learned in protected agriculture;
- It serves as a training manual designed to be implemented through the RADA training division to upgrade Extension Officers’ skills; and
- It serves as a reference point for a local comprehensive certification program in Modified Environment Agriculture at the HEART Ebony Park Academy, the first of its kind in Jamaica.
All three uses share the underlying goal of encouraging the local population to embrace the opportunities and benefits of the growing sub-sector. The following protected agriculture benefits are currently being realized in both North and Central America and are replicable in Jamaica:
- Increased yields;
- Improved quality and consistency of crops;
- Improved land and water use efficiency;
- Increased control over crop nutrition;
- Decreased use of chemicals and pesticides;
- Improved resistance to adverse weather conditions;
- Increased control over insects and diseases;
- Reduced external and biological crop threats.