The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in partnership with Jamaica 4-H Clubs, today (November 12) launched an agricultural booklet, ‘Youth in Agriculture, A Roadmap to Your Success’, to guide youth on a successful path in the industry.
The roadmap, which was created by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, offers a comprehensive guide to farmers and youth who are interested in farming on a wide range of issues, including educational institutions that offer farming courses, scholarships, career in agriculture, farming networks, how to access land and funds for agricultural ventures, how to market agricultural produce, and how to register as a farmer.
Addressing the launch at the Ministry, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, who has been very passionate about eliminating the barriers for youth in agriculture and who conceptualised the idea for the roadmap, said that a lot of young people are interested in farming but are challenged by accessing the relevant information about agriculture.
“Young people are excited to get into agriculture, young people want to go into agriculture, but oftentimes they don’t know the how, and they spend a lot of time and energy and get so frustrated moving around trying to find out how can they get involved, how can they start a farm, how will they find the information that they need to make that critical first step,” he said.
“Hence this roadmap has emerged, a roadmap to your success, and in it our young people can find the answers to some of the difficult questions… . It points our young people in the right direction,” the Minister added.
He commended the team from the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, led by Executive Director, Dr. Ronald Blake, and the team from the Ministry for getting the document out in record time.
For his part, Dr. Blake credited the Minister for birthing the idea for the roadmap, which he said, came out of their very first conversation on agriculture.
He pointed out that the document, which is by no means perfect, will be regularly updated and will be distributed mainly electronically.
Dr. Blake further explained that the content for the booklet was framed from prior consultations with youth in the sector, from which 14 key challenges were identified.
“They had a challenge in accessing funds to get into the sector; they had real challenges with marketing; also, while the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has been doing an excellent job, there is just not sufficient technical resources to meet the needs of all our youth farmers,” Dr. Blake said.
“And, finally, this was a big one – they had an issue with access to arable lands,” he pointed out.
According to Dr. Blake, although the document was created to address those key challenges, the 4-H Clubs have undertaken different approaches to address some of the challenges, including lobbying for access to arable land, the provision of venture input support, through the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme for youth farmers who could not access the formal financial sector, and the support offered by the 4-H Clubs’ own team of technical volunteers.
“Youth in Agriculture has continued to foster innovation and creativity in training,” he said, noting that the 4-H annual technology competition has produced many novel concepts and technology that have been adopted in the sector.