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The Jamaica 4-H Clubs and the United States Peace Corps/Jamaica, yesterday (June 30), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will ensure the sustainability of the International Four-H Youth Exchange Programme (IFYE) between both countries.
In addition, the MOU will establish a framework for a lasting partnership between the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and the Peace Corps, which will assist in strengthening collaborative efforts in areas such as sustainable agriculture, natural resource management and rural development. Addressing the ceremony, which took place at the 4-H headquarters on Old Hope Road, Chairman of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Senator Norman Grant said that the signing was a significant step for the development of a mutually beneficial relationship between both organizations.
“The 4-H Clubs and the US Peace Corps/Jamaica recognize, commend and support the objectives of the International Four-H Exchange Programme through a meaningful and productive partnership,” he said.
Senator Grant highlighted the fact that the signing of the MOU would serve to improve the travelling process for applicants who are selected for the programme, as in the past, Jamaican participants had great difficulty in acquiring the necessary visas, while their U.S counterparts had it much easier.
Under the MOU, the Jamaica 4-H Clubs will be responsible for selecting applicants, providing the appropriate supervision for the young people, and maintaining regular contact with them while they are abroad, as well as facilitate, upon their return, the implementation of any programme in the field of agriculture.
Simultaneously, the Peace Corps will assist in the design, planning and co-ordination of pre and post training sessions for participants, as well as participate in the evaluation and on-going improvement of the Exchange Programme, in collaboration with the staff of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.
Dr. Suchet Loois, Country Director of the United States Peace Corps in Jamaica, noted that the MOU would serve to further enhance the development of the young people in the field of agriculture.
“This collaboration is committed to youth development in the agricultural sector.and we will endeavour to ensure the smooth development of this programme, in whatever way we can,” he said.
He pointed out that the collaboration would extend outside the sphere of the exchange programme, to include the development of local agricultural entrepreneurs.
“I see this MOU facilitating more than just collaboration in the exchange programme. One of the things we (Peace Corps) would like to do is to participate in encouraging young people to become agricultural entrepreneurs.because one of the things that we are concerned about is the ageing of the farmers in Jamaica,” Mr. Loois said.
“We need to capture, as much as we can, this group of clubbites before they escape us. we talk about brain drain, but this is the time to have a brain gain. to bring them back to Jamaica (after the programme is through), and the Peace Corps is pledging to work with you in order to boost the development of agriculture in this country,” he added.
The international exchange programme began in 1948, and since then, has helped thousands of young people from countries such as the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the South Pacific and Jamaica, to learn about agricultural practices in participating countries.