JIS News

The Jamaica 4-H Clubs is one of the leading youth training organizations in Jamaica and since its inception 66 years ago, it has been moulding the lives of young persons between the ages of nine and 25 years in agricultural, homemaking, leadership, the environment and information technology.
As Executive Director, Lenworth Fulton explains, the major aim of the 4-H Clubs is to provide a cadre of young leaders to harness the agricultural exploits of the country.
“It also provides training to develop our young leaders and to underpin our democracy by teaching youngsters how to run meetings, and how to be democratic in their way of life and in their businesses,” he says.
There are over 650 registered school, community and church clubs within the Jamaica 4-H Clubs network, with more than 67,000 members and some 5,000 leaders and volunteers. Every year, there is a concerted effort by the organization to increase its membership.
Most of the programmes are concentrated on the development of agriculture, through initiatives such as the Goat Revolving Programme, which began in 2001. Through its farms at Warminster, St. Elizabeth and Montpelier in St. James, the movement is able to supply animals to clubbities, who are assisted in caring for the animals. The young animals are returned to the programme, for others to benefit.
According to Mr. Fulton, the aim is to “bring young persons into goat rearing, and to bring them into a type of agriculture that is profitable”.
Another initiative is the Rabbit Revolving Programme at Long Pond, in Manchester which was started in 2004, through a $100,000 donation from parish patron, Dunbar McFarlane.
The rabbit-breeding initiative is being boosted through a US$10,000 grant from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to build a breeding farm at the Rose Hall Training Centre in St. Catherine. Construction of the facility is underway.
Mr. Fulton also informs that rabbits are bred at the 4-H head office on Old Hope Road and “we are selling rabbits and are exchanging rabbits and that is going well.”
The 4-H is also developing an apiculture project and according to the Executive Director, “we probably have 350 boxes of bees now at probably three or four locations. We have our own label now and we are trying to expand that, to put honey on the market.”
The organization is also involved in peanut production and Warminster, St. Elizabeth and is seeking to expand that programme through a grant from the Japanese Government.
Other programmes include the Heifer Revolving Programme, Environmental Programme, Entrepreneurial Programme and the International Exchange programmes.
More recently, the 4-H Clubs have started to place greater focus on health, with the implementation of healthy lifestyle clubs in schools. Through these clubs, Mr. Fulton says, “we are doing whatever we can do to encourage children to stay away from early sex, alcohol tobacco, and hazardous ways of life”.
The United States Agency for International Development is sponsoring healthy lifestyle projects in Clarendon and Manchester at a cost of US$5,000 and US$10,000, respectively.
In terms of training, the 4-H Clubs operate 12 training centres across the island. Mr. Fulton informs that at the Denbigh Training Centre in Clarendon, “we are training people in the tractor driving and maintenance programme and we are also training people in home economics. The facility has a lecture room, home economics laboratory, and a nursery, and can accommodate up to 80 students.
Meanwhile, he says that the movement is seeking to upgrade its training facilities at Rose Hall in St. Catherine; Denbigh, Clarendon; and Font Hill in St. Thomas, among others. “We are on a drive to get larger facilities to train more youths.in a residential sense, as the facilities that the 4-H Clubs have are just too small,” Mr. Fulton explains.
Meanwhile, he says that the movement would be working closely with organizations such as the National Youth Service, National Centre for Youth Development, and the Youth in Agriculture Programme.
He also calls on the public to support the work of the organization. “We want your support and when you see us out there in our activities, the money we raise from these goes right back into the programmes, so help”, he says.

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