Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has urged graduates of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), to use their training to create opportunities for themselves and others in the society.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, giving the main address at the annual graduation ceremony of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), at Passley Gardems, Portland, on December 2.
Giving the main address at the college’s annual graduation ceremony on December 2, Dr. Tufton said there needs to be paradigm shift in the society in respect of the approach to the creation of job opportunities.
Noting that currently there is the expectation that jobs are to be provided for persons when they graduate from training institutions , Dr. Tufton said the time has come for there to be a change in that mindset, adding that the knowledge and skills acquired are powerful tools which can expose them to unlimited opportunities and potential in respect of job creation.
He argued that there is a great deal of opportunities for job creation and financial rewards in the Agricultural sector, and lamented that farmers are not making enough use of those opportunities. He said the Government is currently in the process of treating farming as a value chain in an effort to enable farmers to recognise the enormous possibilities that can accrue from that involvement.
The Minister said farmers are not likely to create opportunities for themselves if they do not have access to the necessary linkages to ensure the success of their business ventures, pointing out that the value chain ascribed to the farming sector by government was envisaged for the purpose of providing the sector with the necessary support and opportunities that will place it on the cutting edge of agricultural production in the global market.
He said that the tourism industry is one in which there are a lot of opportunities to be exploited by the farming sector, and that the production of hot pepper and ginger can accrue significant benefits to farmers, as there is a huge demand for those products, both locally and internationally.
The Minister said the government is fully committed to providing the agricultural sector with the support and resources it needs to make it succeed, citing as one of the measures taken to indicate the seriousness of that commitment – an increase in the cadre of Agricultural Extension Officers assigned to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
He said that measure is necessary for the survival and improvement of the sector, adding that its implementation was carried out as part of a deliberate effort by government to position the industry as a business to be taken seriously and operated professionally.
The Minister exhorted the graduates to play their part in the effort to make agriculture a more attractive vocation, as they they will not only be making the sector more successful, but will also be ensuring the achievement of food security for Jamaica.
A total of 332 students graduated from the institution with Bachelors Degrees, Associate Degrees and Diplomas in the areas of General Agriculture, Agricultural Education, Natural Science, Business Studies, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Agriculture and Primary Education.