School Garden Projects Reaping Success


The School Garden Projects are reaping success since their inception five years ago in the island’s schools, pulling in over $5 million in revenue over the period.
President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and Chairman of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Senator Norman Grant made the disclosure at Friday’s (October 3) sitting of the Senate, while closing the debate on a motion he moved, calling for support for the nation’s farmers in their commitment to increasing food production.
Responding to concerns raised by Government Senator, Noel Monteith the previous week (Sept. 26), on the involvement of young persons in agriculture, Senator Grant pointed out that the programme was a testament of the level of involvement of the youth in agriculture.
He informed that close to some 300 schools were participating in the programme, with over 200 of these institutions benefiting from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) assistance. Further, he said that some 60 schools were benefiting from a revolving loan of $25,000, which the programme provided to schools interested in starting a school garden.
Senator Grant reported that to date, $1.5 million was disbursed in the form of loans and grants to schools via the National Youth in Agriculture Programme. Schools are given two years to repay and most of the projects involve poultry, vegetable and coffee production as well as pig rearing and apiculture.
Production since the programme’s inception includes over 50,000 kilograms of meat and vegetables, 40 litres of honey and over 108,000 dozen eggs.RADA, under the Schools Agricultural Programme coordinates the projects.
Turning to the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Senator Grant said that the number of clubbites to date stood at 43,000 islandwide and 5,000 leaders, who were mainly teachers in the schools.
Commenting on training initiatives, Senator Grant mentioned the Tractor Operation and Maintenance Training Programme, which had trained five batches of participants (100 persons) since it began in March 2001.
The programme, which is certified by the National Council on Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (NCTVET) enables participants to graduate with a driver’s licence to operate a tractor. It is open to clubbites between the ages of 18 and 25 years.
Senator Grant, mentioning the Food Preparation Programme, said it started last year and had trained some 80 persons. The programme is conducted at the Denbigh Centre and is also NCTVET certified.He also told his colleagues that the Office Software Application programme had trained some 60 persons in information technology.

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