Agriculture Minister Says Idle Lands Must Be Utilised

Photo: Mark Bell Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw (left), accepts a bottle of banana wine from the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Parish Manager for St. James, Keisha McNeill (right), during a tour of parish booths at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ 2018 National Achievement Expo, held at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon, on April 27. At centre is Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake.

Story Highlights

  • Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says idle lands can be used to produce crops, particularly for processing, to satisfy local and export demands.
  • The Minister points out that this activity will contribute to the country’s food security and create employment for many young persons.
  • “This can be part of our path towards wealth creation,” he said, at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ 2018 National Achievement Expo, held at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon, on April 27.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says idle lands can be used to produce crops, particularly for processing, to satisfy local and export demands.

The Minister points out that this activity will contribute to the country’s food security and create employment for many young persons.

“This can be part of our path towards wealth creation,” he said, at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ 2018 National Achievement Expo, held at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon, on April 27.

The Minister informed that many large companies, such as Red Stripe and the Caribbean Broilers Group, are seeking to establish contractual arrangements with small and medium-sized farmers under a mother farm concept to grow certain crops.

He cited the Caribbean Broilers Group’s requirement of 2,000 acres of land to grow sweet corn, onion, red peas, scotch bonnet peppers and sea-island cotton.

“These companies have money, they have access to technology, they have access to markets, both in Jamaica and abroad, and the companies will guarantee access to these markets once the (crops) are produced at the standards that have been established,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw hailed the Jamaica 4-H Movement for its physical growth within the last three years.

The movement, which began more than 75 years ago, has seen an increase in its membership by approximately 17 per cent, which has made the country’s local 4-H Movement the second largest in the world.

“I want to congratulate all the staff for all the wonderful work you have been doing. You have over 1,100 clubs, 183 community-based clubs and you have 104,000 members in your clubs. I am very impressed with these figures,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Ronald Blake, informed that the organisation has been putting to good use the $242 million investment made by the Government yearly.

He said the organisation has established 465 school gardens across the island and trained more than 2,000 Jamaicans this year over the age of 17 at the mastery level, which means they can venture into jobs or craft their own employment opportunities.

Dr. Blake also informed that last year, 427 unattached youth were trained in areas that will allow them to create their own employment.

“The 4-H club is very much relevant and we want to be less dependent on the public purse,” he said.

For his part, one of the Board Directors, Collin Virgo, noted that the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Head Office on Old Hope Road in Kingston will undergo significant expansion.

Mr. Virgo expressed gratitude to the volunteers and staff of the Movement, who went beyond the call of duty to enable the staging of the 2018 National Achievement Expo.

Held under the theme, ‘Promoting Agri-Business’, the Expo saw Shanique Dawkins of Clarendon being selected as the 4-H Girl of the Year and Rovani Scott of Hanover as the 4-H Boy of the Year.
They were awarded the main prize of $1 million each, courtesy of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

The money is expected to go towards continuing their education as well as the pursuit of specific projects.

The awards presentation was followed by the Minister’s tour of various parish booths.

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