jamaicaJamaica is the third largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean Sea. The total land area of the island is about 11,000 km², with a mountainous topography surrounded by a narrow coastal plain. The climate is tropical, that is, hot and humid with about an annual rainfall of 1000 mm. Locations at higher altitude have temperate weather, but the country has been plagued by frequent hurricanes. The population was about 2.7 million people in 2011 and the capital is Kingston.  Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes and the parishes have three regions, namely Cornwall, Middlesex, and Surrey. Main economic sectors include agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing, and financial services. Transportation and agricultural aviation are also important.



The agriculture sector, together with forestry and fisheries, contributed 6 percent to the national GDP in 2009 and this sector employs about 20 percent of the population. Main commodities are sugar, bananas, coffee, cocoa, citrus, coconuts, yams, and vegetables, such as pumpkin,  cabbage, tomato and cucumber. Major groups include papaya, pineapple and watermelon; and poultry and goats are also reared. Sugar and bananas have been Jamaica’s largest agricultural export for many years.

The 2007 agriculture census shows about 346,000 hectares under production. The total number of farms is about 230,000, the average farm size being about one hectare. Almost 85 percent of the farms are less than five hectares. Interestingly commercial producers, who hold only 20 percent of the production units, represent 80 percent of the marketed output.


History of extension and the enabling environment

In the 19th century, during the British colonial rule, a number of botanical gardens were established in Jamaica. The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) was formed in 1895 under the instruction of the then Governor General of Jamaica with the objective of stimulating interests of all categories of farmers in the island toward agricultural pursuits. Basically a forum was to be established where all farmers could meet, discuss their problems,  initiate plans, elect officers and do all other things necessary for the welfare of the farming community. In summary, the JAS was responsible for providing extension services. The JAS is the oldest and most deeply rooted institution of rural and agriculture development in the Caribbean region. In 1941, it was incorporated as a private voluntary organization. Presently, the JAS is an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*



















Sources:The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

During the late 1980s Jamaica went through structural adjustment program, which adversely affected the extension organization. Extension lost more than half of its professional staff and almost all of his field assistants. In 1988, the number of extension staff was just 150. Out of only eight authorized positions of specialists, and four were lying vacant.  In 1990, a statutory body, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), was established under the Rural Agricultural Development Authority Act of 1990. To this day, RADA remains Jamaica’s main public agricultural extension and rural development agency.

Jamaica has a number of autonomous commodity boards covering cash crops like sugarcane, banana, coffee, cocoa of, coconut, etc. These boards perform several functions including marketing and provision of extension advice to the relevant farmers. During 1980s, a large number of experienced staff of the government extension service left their jobs and joined the various commodity boards which offered quite high salaries and benefits. This development weakened the public extension service. In addition, as the extension advisory staff joined the boards, they concentrated only on selected farmers who grew cash crops and the majority of farmers felt left out.

A few years ago when Jamaica requested the assistance of FAO for strengthening its extension services, it was advised to consider adopting a pluralistic extension model involving both public and private extension providers. This recommendation was made in view of the fact that RADA had quite a small number of staff, but was not able to deliver extension services to all of the farmers. RADA, however, did not agree and a proposed project never materialized.

Various donor agencies such as European Union, IICA, USAID, CARDI, IICD, CIDA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have been providing financial and technical assistance to Jamaica for agricultural development. FAO has provided funding for the implementation of small projects for farmers in the areas of education, crop production, livestock, training and hurricane relief. USAID approved a $ 14 million four-year program, “Marketing and Agriculture for Jamaican Improved Competitiveness (MAJIC). The European Union funded two projects; the Morant/Yallahs Agricultural Development Project (MYADP) and a follow-up project, the Eastern Jamaica Agricultural Support Project (EJASP).

Extension Providers

Major institutions providing extension/advisory services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has had main responsibility for public extension services since the 1950s. The Ministry has the following two institutions which come closest to providing extension advisory services to the farmers:

Rural Agricultural Development Authority 
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is a statutory body responsible for public agricultural extension matters. Its mission is to promote the development of agriculture in Jamaica, as the main engine of economic growth in rural communities through an efficient, modern and sustainable extension service which could enhance the national economy and improve the quality of life of rural farm families. RADA performs quite a large number of functions including training and development of extension staff, training of men and women farmers, mobilization of agriculture credit and other inputs for small farmers, facilitating marketing, improving rural infrastructure, operation of agricultural service centers, implementation of selected projects, liaising with agricultural research institutions, encouraging agro-industrial development, involving farmers in policy formulation, and assisting rural women in identifying income earning opportunities and developing small businesses to earn a good livelihood.

RADA’s day to day extension services are carried out by its 13 parish offices. Each parish office has field officers attached to them, who divide the parishes into extension areas for monitoring purposes. Field officers are supposed to be both educators and mediators. They are also responsible for implementing and overseeing agricultural projects operated by RADA, in collaboration with other agencies such as national irrigation commission, Pesticide Control Authority, Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, etc. Parish offices are involved in the organization of agricultural shows and exhibitions.

RADA has a number of locally funded projects. They cover national school gardens; food crop production and marketing; fruit trees, irrigation, marketing extension and post-harvest; home economics; land husbandry, livestock and farmers’ registration; and assistance to farmers in bauxite production through its Jamaica Bauxite Institute.

RADA also operates income generating projects such as Twickenham Industries located at the Farmers Training Center, AgriMart, Reaches Chips, Hanover Dasheen Chips, Lime Tree Garden Peanut Processing, Flower Hill Bammy Project, and Sue’s Tamarind Balls. A greenhouse unit was established at RADA at the same time when the Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project of three-year duration, which was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and was launched in 2008.

Jamaica Agricultural Society 
The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) is an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It is an umbrella organization assisting of various agricultural organizations including Jamaica Citrus Growers Association, Pimento Growers Association, Cocoa Industry Board, All-Island Cane Farmers Association, Coconut Industry Board, All-Island Banana Growers Association, Coffee Industry, Jamaica Livestock Association, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Export Division, and Sugar Industry Board.

The JAS has offices in all parishes. Each parish has an Association Branch Society comprising branches within the farming communities. Each society is governed by elected farmer representatives. The core of the JAS represents the farming community in this way:

  • Foster domestic agricultural production
  • Support research and development of new methodologies and farming techniques
  • Encourage best practices in agricultural development
  • Foster efficiency and effectiveness in agricultural production, output and distribution
  • Support ventures in agri-business as a means of increasing value added within the agricultural sector

Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Advisory Services in Jamaica as of November 2011

Staff Category


Core Business

Principal Directors


Field Services/Operations

Senior Directors


Technical Services

Zonal Directors


Zonal Administration

Parish Managers


Parish Administration

Deputy Parish Managers


Extension Administration

Crop Extension Officers


Crops; General Agriculture

Extension Assistants


Backstopping of Extension Officers

Marketing Extension Officers


Market promotion/Intelligence

Livestock Extension Officers


Training and Development in Livestock

Plant Protection Officers


Plant Protection; Pest risk

Land Husbandry Officers


Livestock Husbandry

Regional Engineers


Roads and Works




Source: Rural Agriculture Development Authority (PowerPoint presentation by the Consultant Joseph I. Lindsay and the RADA CEO Al Powell at CTA on 18 November, 2011) 

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

There are no private agricultural extension and advisory companies in Jamaica. Some farm input supply companies undertake nominal extension activities in order to promote their products. Examples of a few companies involved in agricultural business are as follows:

  • Jamaica Producers Group Limited
  • Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies
  • Sugar industry Association of Jamaica
  • Jamaica Exporters Association
  • Southern Fruits and Food Processors
  • Central Food Packers Limited
  • Spur-Tree Spices Jamaica Limited
  • Livy’s Food Limited

As mentioned earlier, all of these commodity boards, which are autonomous, have their own extension advisory staff to work with farmers ensuring good quality crops.

Non-governmental organizations

No Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) are engaged in extension work in a significant manner. Some NGOs may undertake extension type activities while working in rural areas. Names of a few NGOs are mentioned below:

  • Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust
  • National Environmental Societies Trust
  • Food for the Poor
  • The Build Jamaica Foundation
  • The Association of Women’s Organizations in Jamaica

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

Jamaica has a long history of agricultural cooperatives. Collective production cooperatives consisting of mostly landless farmers were formed in 1950, which was followed by the emergence of individual production cooperatives. Women cooperatives and youth cooperatives began during the 1970s. Presently, more than 100,000 farmers are said to be enjoying membership in about 39 agricultural cooperatives, most of which are located in the rural areas. Similarly, there are a significant number of producers associations. Examples of cooperative societies and farmers associations in Jamaica are as follows:

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Jamaica. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.


Training options for extension professionals

The following academic institutions in Jamaica may be used for pre-service education:

  • College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Passley Gardens, Portland  (the institution offers degrees and diplomas in agriculture)
  • University of the West Indies at Mona  (a regional institution; offers degree programs in Adult Education and Communication Studies)
  • University of Technology, Kingston (this University offers degree programs in veterinary sciences, and technical and vocational education)
  • In-service training for extension professionals can be arranged via telecenters in any of the above mentioned institutions. Another situation that may be used for the training of agricultural extension field staff is the Knockalva Agricultural School, located in the rural community of Ramble in Eastern Hanover.


Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension

According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in  Jamaica was 108. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was 32.  The Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA) established the Agriculture Business Information System (ABIS) in 1999. This system is now used by 100,000 registered producers and traders. However, there is no evidence of the use of ICTs in field extension activities in Jamaica.

An IMF loan has enabled the establishment of 15 telecenters in Jamaica as of April 2011. Under the Universal Access Fund, a total of 42 telecenters have been established in 13 of Jamaica’s 14 parishes; of 42 telecenters, 24 are located in the rural areas. Telecenters such as that located at Jeffrey Town St. Mary, are able to access RADA’s online pages on the Internet. The community radio station at Jeffrey also broadcasts commodity prices for farmers. Some telecenters in regional agricultural networks such as the Caribbean Coastal Area Mgmt Fdtn (Rural Westmoreland) and Bluefields (semi-urban Clarendon) contribute to the discussions on fisheries.


Resources and references

Beckford, C. and D. Barker (2007). The role and value of local knowledge in Jamaican agriculture: adaptation and change in small-scale farming. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 173, No. 2, June 2007, Pp. 118 - 128

Collinder, A. (July 11, 2012). Shake-up pending at commodity boards. Article published in The Gleaner (Jamaican newspaper)

FAO (2010). Survey Questionnaire for Jamaica Extension filled in under the Investment Assessment Project. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Lindsay, J.I. and A. Powell (November 18, 2011). CTA-Sponsored Case Study of Extension and Advisory Services Policies; Jamaica. PowerPoint presentation prepared for CTA

McDermott, K. and E.T. York (March1, 1988). Jamaica Agricultural Institutions and Recommendations for Improvement. Report prepared for the USAID Mission in Jamaica

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica (March 2006). Jamaica National Medium-Term Priority Framework (NMTPF), prepared for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica (March 2010). Jamaican Agriculture Sub-Sector Strategy: Fruits & Vegetable, Herbs & Spices, Roots & Tubers. European Union All CAP Commodities Program, Caribbean Region

Samuels, A. (2011). ICT Access in Rural Areas in Jamaica. PowerPoint presentation made at the CTA Caribbean Telecenters Conference held in Dominican Republic on April 28, 2011

Singh, R.H., L.B. Rankine and G. Seepersad (December 2005). A Review of Agricultural Policies: Case Study of Jamaica. Report prepared for the CARICOM Secretariat under the CARICOM Regional Transformation Program for Agriculture. St. Augustine, Trinidad: The Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension

Smikle, C. (November 2005). Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States for CTA’s Products and Services; Country Study Jamaica prepared for CTA (Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation), The Netherlands

West-Hayles, N. (2010). Investment Assessment Project, Jamaica: Baseline Assessment Report. Kingston: FAO Representation