Diaspora Agriculture Task Force Engages Local Farmers

Photo: Rudranath Fraser The Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference under way at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston. The event runs from July 23-26.

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task Force has been engaging Jamaican farmers in a number of initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable organic farming.
  • In an interview with JIS News, member of the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board, West/Midwest Region, USA, Kimone Gooden, said that there are huge economic opportunities overseas for farmers of organic foods, “so if we help to develop the organic market in Jamaica, then that would be a direct financial impact to the industry.”
  • “We wanted to add value to the Jamaican economy and we saw agriculture as a way to make this contribution. The Task Force involves people who love farming and see the value in farming, especially with the growing organic market in United States, so promoting organic, sustainable farming in Jamaica and getting these products in the States is a good investment,” Ms. Gooden said.

The Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task Force has been engaging Jamaican farmers in a number of initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable organic farming.

The initiatives, which are in line with the Government’s economic growth agenda, are to ensure that local farmers are trained, and that appropriate technology and financing options are available to enable them to capitalise on the demand for organic foods in the United States.

In an interview with JIS News, member of the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board, West/Midwest Region, USA, Kimone Gooden, said that there are huge economic opportunities overseas for farmers of organic foods, “so if we help to develop the organic market in Jamaica, then that would be a direct financial impact to the industry.”

Ms. Gooden, who is also the outgoing Head of the Agriculture Task Force, noted that approximately US$80 billion is spent per year on organic foods and there are not enough producers to meet the demand.

“We wanted to add value to the Jamaican economy and we saw agriculture as a way to make this contribution. The Task Force involves people who love farming and see the value in farming, especially with the growing organic market in United States, so promoting organic, sustainable farming in Jamaica and getting these products in the States is a good investment,” Ms. Gooden said.

She explained too that the Task Force will be creating an investment circle to ensure that in addition to their voluntary contributions, there is direct financial influence to the country.

“We will be launching the Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task Force investment circle at the Diaspora Conference in Kingston. Persons in the Diaspora who are interested in investing in farming enterprises will be pooling money to assist with agricultural projects,” Miss Gooden said.

She informed that starting September 2017, farmers will be able to apply to the circle to get funding for their projects. “The investors will be evaluating the projects and the winning project will be awarded the money,” she said.

She explained that if the farmer does not get the financial assistance in September, there will be other opportunities as the cycle will run every three months.

In addition to the investment circle, the Task Force will be connecting farmers to overseas market by creating a free website for farmers called ‘yaad market’.

Ms. Gooden said farmers will be able to upload a list of their produce on the site, thereby enabling buyers from Jamaica and overseas to see what produce are available and put in their orders.

She further noted that the Task Force will be at the upcoming Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon next month to help farmers to get on the Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task Force online initiative.

“In addition to helping the farmers find and access overseas markets and buyers to sell their produce using the online platform, we will be continuing the champion organic farmer competition and the training in organic farming techniques,” Ms. Gooden informed.

She noted that the Task Force has partnered with the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and has been working on increasing the knowledge of farmers through training.

Through partnership with the JAS, the Task Force has been able to train several farmers in organic farming techniques, packaging (especially for international standards), trading procedures and quality control. She said these efforts should lead to an increase in the output to be exported.

Ms. Gooden explained that the Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task Force is a voluntary organisation and she is encouraging others to join.

“This is how we, the Diaspora, give back and this is our contribution to the country’s economic growth because all the profit goes back to the farmers, which means that it stays in the country,” she said.

The Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Task Force is one of several established by Jamaicans living abroad who want to give back to the country.

The ‘Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference’, which is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is being held under the theme: ‘Partnering for Growth’. It is being staged over the period July 24 to 26 at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

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