Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has announced that the Ministry will collaborate with the Scientific Research Council (SRC) to implement a Rural Youth Employment Project.
The project, to be undertaken initially as a pilot, will get underway within a month.
Speaking at the handing over of a refurbished poultry abattoir at the Garvey Maceo High School in Vernamfield, Clarendon on Wednesday (Feb. 1), Mr. Clarke said the initiative aims to generate employment in agriculture and related services for young people, age 14 to 29 years, in four parishes.
These are Trelawny, St. Ann, Manchester, and St. Thomas, which he said, were selected “based on the level of poverty” in these areas.
“The project will contribute to the reduction of rural youth unemployment by increasing the ability of youth to access sustainable livelihood options. This will be achieved through capacity building of rural youths, through the provision of skills training, agriculture and agro-processing, and increased access to post harvest production facilities, to improve the agriculture value-added,” the Minister explained.
He noted that it will enhance current efforts to strengthen the linkages between agriculture and tourism, and the servicing of niche markets.
Mr. Clarke said the initiative will target young people in school and those who are unattached, with special focus to be placed on the latter cohort. He advised that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) will have direct responsibility for executing the project, in partnership with established community groups.
Mr. Clarke, who advised JIS News that the project’s details are still being developed, said private sector input will be accommodated, noting that “they are very amenable, these days, to helping, in that regard”.
He expressed confidence that the private sector would want to come on board, as they are going to benefit in the long-run, from the expertise the young people will receive.
“As a matter of fact, we are even planning another project where we are going to train young people in agricultural skills, away from just (what is offered) at the institutions, in practical terms, so that (if someone needs, say) a farm manager, (they will be able to recruit someone, who has) been certified in that regard,” Mr. Clarke said.
He told JIS News once the pilot is completed an assessment will be undertaken, to determine how best to advance the initiative.
The poultry abattoir at Garvey Maceo High School was refurbished through a US$10,000 funding facility provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) from its Telefood Special Fund (TSF). This facility aims at assisting grass-root level projects in developing countries, by providing direct funding assistance to groups engaged in small agricultural projects.
The school’s abattoir, which is used in the provision of poultry for the canteen, was identified for assistance after the previous structure fell into disrepair.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter