Witter: Involving young people is key to maximizing the full potential of the agricultural sector | New
Minister of State for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Franklyn Witter, says the only way to realize the full potential of the agricultural sector is to involve young farmers.
Witter was speaking at the lease ceremony for young farmers at Ebony Park HEART Academy in Toll Gate, Clarendon on Tuesday.
The transfer is a partnership between the Agro-Investment Corporation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Seventeen young farmers received official lease documents at the event. As of Tuesday, 50 young Jamaican farmers had received leases, Pearnel Charles Jr, the agriculture and fisheries minister, revealed.
Charles pledged to support the fight against praedial theft and implored them not to be deterred by any misfortunes that may befall the sector.
Dalkeith McDonald, 30, was one of 17 young farmers. mcdonald said the gleaner that he developed a talent for agriculture at the age of 10, following a science project in elementary school.
Fascinated by the results, McDonald decided that farming was something he would venture into full time. McDonald said: “I developed a love for farming when I was 10 years old. In elementary school, we were given the task of planting pea plants in the bottle with newspaper, and over time the seedling matured, and from there my interest in farming grew.
McDonald’s love of farming grew when he started attending Greater Portmore Primary School in St Catherine, where he was introduced to various farming tools and taught farming-focused principles and techniques. ‘agriculture.
McDonald, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Technology, has been producing watermelons, peppers and papayas since he was a teenager. He said the gleaner that it was “a good feeling”. He shared that he was hit hard by thieves, crumbling his watermelon production.
Charles, who cited predial theft as one of the biggest threats to the sector, pledged to “revitalise” the farmers’ association and build support aimed at tackling the predial theft.
Among the young farmers was former Manchester farm queen Sharlene Anderson, who said her tenure paved the way for her to start producing her prized crop: dragon fruit. “That’s where most people are heading now, health-wise, and [there is high] demand for fruit. It’s an exotic fruit and there aren’t many people growing it, which is why I’m venturing into it,” Anderson explained.
Anderson, who has a degree in environmental science, is St Thomas’ 2022 Champion Farmer.
Abiona Green, 28, also expressed her excitement after receiving her lease. green said the gleaner that she ventured into farming to source items for her family business, Gimmi Likkle Creation, where she currently plants and sells exotic fruits, including lychee.
Mayor of May, Pen Winston Maragh, said he would push for the implementation of a backyard farming program aimed at sparking greater interest in farming and for Jamaicans to get more out of in the idea of ”grow what you eat, eat what you grow”. The mayor added that there was suitable land available in Clarendon for farming, but cited a challenge in finding young farmers.
Ronald Blake, executive director of 4-H Clubs of Jamaica, said the organization’s work has accelerated youth involvement in agriculture.
“It is through the work of 4-H clubs over the past eighty or so years that we have continually [seen] many young people who do not only come to this sector because they were sent there, [but come] because they are passionate about it.