Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, has expressed satisfaction with the work of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, in promoting agriculture among the nation’s youth.
Speaking at the organisation’s National Achievement Expo at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground on April 27, Mr. Clarke said that from the quality of the displays, he is “satisfied that the 4-H Movement is on the right track”.
“When I look in the different farm booths…and see the potential of our young people, I say that Jamaica’s agriculture is in safe hands. All we need to do is nurture the young ones and guide them on the right path,” he stated.
Mr. Clarke said the expo’s theme: ‘Youth Involvement in Agriculture, for Economic Growth and Development’, places into sharp focus the fact that for Jamaica’s agricultural development to be sustainable, “our young people must be involved. We must do everything that is humanly possible to attract our young people."
He cited the Ministry’s recent presentation of 27 handheld tractors to several young small farmers, as an example of the extent of technological input that has been to enhance productivity and encourage more youth to take up farming.
The Minister urged the management of the 4-H Movement to work to push membership past the 100,000 mark “as quickly as possible." Membership in the 4-H Clubs has increased from 18,000, in 1998, to over 65,000 in ensuing years.
“The areas that (the youngsters) are involved in – goat care management, apiculture, circum-posing, home economics, environmental awareness and, most importantly, leadership skills, tells us that the 4-H Movement is where our young people must belong,” he said.
The Minister also cited the school garden programme as another pivotal initiative by the 4-H Clubs, and stressed the need for more of these to be established in schools.
“The school garden programme…was re-vamped recently, and I understand that it is moving from strength to strength. We must begin to put in more school gardens. We must teach our young people that they must ‘eat what they grow and grow what they eat’ and what better way than starting it right in our school gardens,” he stated.
In declaring that this year’s Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show would be one “with a difference”, within the context of Jamaica’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations, Mr. Clarke said the 4-H Clubs will play a significant role.
He further committed to assisting with the organisation's growth. “As long as I am the Minister of Agriculture, special interest will be placed in the advancement of the 4-H Movement. I will do whatever I can to make your organisation grow from strength to strength,” Mr. Clarke pledged.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter