Speaking at the Official Handing-over Ceremony of the newly refurbished PDO Building yesterday afternoon (Tues), Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Samantha Marshall Minister Marshall used the opportunity to present a brief history on the Peasant Development Office (PDO).
She said that the PDO Building was established in the 1950s for small farmers who were then engaged in sugar cane and cotton production.
And so instead of them having to deal with individual farmers ,PDO was basically formed as a corporative to ensure that all the farmers had one body that represented them and was actually able to sell their produce then to that body.
PDO was also developed as a corporative that supported the working class to the extent that those farmers who could not afford to send their children to school would receive scholarships through the PDO to assist in sending their young children to then the TOR Memorial and Mr. Hill School.
“So you see that this PDO which is now known as the Agricultural Extension Office has a significant history and one that it would be a misfortune, if we were not to build upon that.”
Minister Marshall also lauded the staff at the extension division for their continued performance and commitment despite the challenges they faced over the years.
“You had your challenges but you also had a commitment to the farmers and I want to thank you for that.”
The newly appointed Agriculture Minister reminded staff that with this should also come modernization of the extension division in order to better serve the farming community.
She said that a look has to be taken at whether the Legislation that deals with agricultural lands is up to date and needs any adjustment, the relationship that is being built with farmers in terms of monitoring and support and a look has to be taken at the structure to ensure that they are better able to serve the public.
“And so that is why I like the word’ modernization,’ because this is an opportunity not only for us to have a home that is retrofitted for our purpose but for us to also examine what were the challenges in us serving the public and how can we make adjustments to our organizational structure to ensure that we are better able to serve the public.’
She said the stage is now set and improved performance must be key.
“All eyes are on us now, we’ve asked for better working conditions, we’ve asked for tools, we’ve gotten most of what we’ve asked for, we have to continue with our commitment to perform. More will come, but we can’t sit back and that is why before we started I asked extension officers to come and sit to the front… own it. We need you to continue with your commitment to share with our farmers to ensure that our level of production in the agriculture sector will continue to grow.”
According to Minister Marshall, the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought the stark reality home to many persons regarding the impact in importing from the US and the time is now to ‘hold the bull by the horn’ and drive home the message of eating what we grow and sustainability in the agriculture sector.
The agriculture minister also appealed to the agriculture extension staff to boost their performance in the area of data collection, describing it as ‘critical’ in order for the ministry to better plan its way forward.
“I am a minister that like numbers; I like to know what’s the percentage in the market; how much is in the ground; what’s the average weight; poundage; what can we expect; we can’t guess it, we have the statistics and IT Division that is relying heavily on the extension division to feed them with that
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I am loving this lady Samantha Marshall – MP, approach to this Industry!
No tap tarl. Guarne plants good seeds, and cloning great trees!
Wishing the Minister and her TEAM much success in the agriculture sector.
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