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The Jamaica 4-H Club is seeking to increase its membership this year by targeting more community and church-based groups.
“We see community clubs as an agent of social intervention programmes as too many young persons (especially young men 18-25) get caught up in illicit activities,” said chairman of the 4-H board of management, Senator Norman Grant.
He was addressing a press briefing yesterday (Feb. 6) at the Jamaica 4-H Club’s national headquarters on Old Hope Road, to announce improvement initiatives to be undertaken this calendar year.
Among the initiatives he mentioned, was the commercialization of 4-H products to appeal to local and international markets. According to Senator Grant, “we have 4-H sauce, jams, honey, chutney.. the board has instructed to explore and examine where this year we can now move the 4-H in the commercialization of all of these areas so we are converting all of these into products that will be certified by the Bureau of Standard and we will not only have it on the local market but it will be going to the international market first starting with our regional connection.”
Senator Grant noted that within the last five years, the group’s membership has increased to 65,000 clubbites, 5,000 leaders and 650 clubs with a total investment in youth development amounting to some $465 million, with $65 million of that amount raised by the 4-H board of management and volunteers.
He noted further, that the programmes offered, “have been a phenomenal success”, particularly that of the tractor operation and maintenance programmes and the food preparation course.
“Over the period, May 2001 to January 2005, some 10 batches of operators were trained at an average of 19 persons in each batch, hence a total of 193. Of this number, 171 were males and the females numbered 22,” Senator Grant said, informing that 11 per cent of the trainees were placed in jobs while the remaining 79 per cent were able to secure employment through their own initiative. A number of them are employed in the bauxite sector.
In addition, during October 2001, eight batches of persons were trained in the food preparation course at an average of 14 persons per batch.
Meanwhile, Lenworth Fulton, Executive Director of the club, said that the movement was becoming more of a youth development organization rather than a “hard core training institution”.
“We have taken the decision that we will work to complement the HEART Trust/NTA instead of competing,” he stated.