#Kingston, September 11, 2018 – Jamaica – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, says that the Government is committed to providing opportunities for young people to pursue farming as a business. He said it is in support of this mission that the Ministry has completed a draft National Youth in Agriculture Policy and implementation plan to be submitted to Cabinet shortly. It will be implemented over a 10-year period upon approval, at a cost of some $400 million.
“It will create an enabling environment for youth to transition and invest in agriculture and fisheries along the entire value chain,” the Minister said at a Youth in Agriculture public forum held at Knox Community College’s Cobbla campus in Manchester on Friday (September 7). “Our vision is to have a vibrant, re-energised agricultural sector involving young, creative minds and young men and women, who are technologically savvy and ready to join the vanguard of entrepreneurs,” he added.
The Minister said that the Government is looking to younger farmers, especially those who have received formal training, to lead the way in finding solutions to challenges facing the sector. He said that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has reported an increase in the registration of young farmers over the period 2014 to 2017, and with more than 1,100 clubs and in excess of 100,000 members, Jamaica has the fourth largest number of 4-H members in the world.
Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake, in his address told the young people that there are lucrative opportunities in areas such as livestock and poultry farming, apiculture, aquaculture, horticulture and establishing plant nurseries.
“Agriculture is one of those occupations that give you theoretical knowledge, but it also provides you with a skill. If nobody wants to employ you, you can create your own employment. Prepare yourself to create your own employment while you are in college – there is no better place,” he said.
Citing other prospects, he mentioned agro-processing; mushroom farming, which he said is “easy to do and very lucrative”; and offering tractor services.
“Buy a tractor and go back to your community and sell tractor services. That is big business,” he noted, informing that the 4-H Clubs has partnered with the HEART Trust NTA to offer training in tractor-driving operations. Dr. Blake said that suitably qualified young people could also sell their services as agricultural and soil test technicians.
“I see agricultural services such as model farm tours at reasonable costs, as another business. Go and register farmers and get people to tour. Drone services will be used in agriculture and they are not very expensive, so buy a drone and offer spraying and surveillance services,” he further advised.