The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has programmed more than $300 million to fund agricultural activities tailored for youth this year.
Details of these were outlined by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, during his 2021/22 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (May 12), under the theme ‘The New Face of Food’.
He said that the allocation includes some $200 million from the Productivity Incentive Programme.
“As we craft the new face of food, youth have to be at the forefront. We know our youth are interested in agriculture. Our job, as Government, is to provide opportunities for guidance, for growth, profit and innovation,” Minister Green said.
He told the House that he has instructed the Ministry to reserve 20 per cent of all agricultural land under government control for youth, under preferential terms.
“We will publish the lands that are so reserved and the methodology to acquire same, within the next quarter,” he informed.
In addition, Minister Green said $100 million has been earmarked to provide stock and infrastructure support, among other inputs for the Knockalva and Sydney Pagon High Schools in St. Elizabeth, among other secondary institutions.
He said this is in addition to a new state-of-the-art agro-processing facility that was built at Knockalva through partnership involving the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
He said that ground will be broken shortly to construct a $35-million agro-processing facility at the Sydney Pagon High School, which will be spearheaded by the J. Wray and Nephew Foundation.
The Minister further told the House that the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) is slated to receive $20 million to assist with the completion of selected projects.
Highlighting other initiatives to promote youth in agriculture, Minister Green informed that the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP) is being expanded this year, to expose participants to life skills, entrepreneurship and the necessary tools to pursue business opportunities.
The Minister said they will also receive a kick-start grant of $50,000 and up to six months of business coaching, while indicating that each rural Member of Parliament (MP) will be allowed to select 10 participants for the programme.
Other engagements include the development of the Youth in Agriculture Policy and the launch of an Advocate Council.
“[This is] a council of young people, between the ages 18 and 35, who will meet quarterly with me [in my capacity] as Minister and provide policy direction, establish programmes and communications strategies to ensure that we get more youth in farming,” Minister Green informed.