JIS News

Region Three of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture has recently launched its Schools’ Agricultural & Environmental Competition and Fair, at the Almond Tree Restaurant in Ocho Rios, St. Ann under the theme: ‘Maintaining Food Security, Keeping Jamaican Jobs’.
Some 80 schools from St. Mary, St. Ann and Trelawny, as well as other parishes, will participate in the event, scheduled to take place on the grounds of the York Castle High School in the parish on Thursday, May 20.
Senior Officer in the Standardization Division of the Bureau of Standard, Sonia Morgan, said many students were still being influenced to pursue traditional careers of doctor, lawyer, and engineer, among others, and so, it was important that they became aware of the many careers in the field of agriculture.
Mrs. Morgan told the gathering at the launch, that agriculture should be presented in schools as an attractive option, to expose students to career choices in agricultural science, adding that “by doing so, we open their eyes to what they could achieve as agriculturalists, embarking on areas including agronomy or crop science; livestock sciences, management and economics, agricultural marketing and agricultural engineering.
“I want to say to the Ministry of Education, principals and teachers, change begins at the top. It begins with those who can effect change to the curriculum. Schools must expose students to agriculture from an early age. This promotional drive we are about to embark on must target as young as kindergarten, as we must ensure they understand the importance of agriculture to food security,” she declared.
Pointing out that agricultural science teachers needed to be knowledgeable as well as enthusiastic and enjoy teaching the subject, Mrs. Morgan said, “A lot of children do not know where food come from. They know that they can buy it at the supermarket but they have no idea how it gets there. If we make the subject mandatory from primary to the tertiary level, this will help children to develop an appreciation for agriculture from an early age”.
Noting that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) was encouraging farmers to diversify in agriculture by producing what was in demand, the Standards Officer said that St. Ann, for example, was a producer of cabbage, carrot, pak choi, lettuce and tubers such as yam and farmers needed to produce in larger quantities to respond to the needs of the wider environment.
Commenting on the theme, Mrs. Morgan said it was relevant in a practical and real sense, as food security would ensure that the food offered for trade and consumption was safe and not associated with any contraband or illegal items.
To that end, she said food must be produced in circumstances that utilized best agricultural, livestock, processing, packaging, labeling and environmental practices, adding that it was important that the food supplier provided quality products at affordable cost.
On the other hand, she said that in order to ensure food quality and safety, it was also important that producers complied with the regulations of the food industry, pointing out that several organizations including the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the National Environment and Planning Agency were working with the Bureau of Standards toward that goal.
“As we seek to assure safe, quality local food products, similarly, the products that are imported into our country must be examined, checked and monitored routinely and regularly, to ensure that they also meet the required regulations and standards,” she said. She noted that officers from the Bureau visited shops, stores, supermarkets, hardware, pharmacies, warehouses, and other locations to check product labels and to take samples for testing and analysis to verify compliance to regulations and conformance to standards.

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