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Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, is lauding the work of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
In his address at the clubs’ National Achievement Day Expo held on April 30 at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Clarendon, the Minister stated that the organisation has been a guiding light for the country’s young people, in terms of providing them with the discipline and training to contribute to national development.
“I think the 4-H Clubs in the (schools) provide that guiding light, which is so badly needed in our education system today,” he stated.
Citing the latest registration figures, Dr. Tufton noted that the movement has grown over the years, with a membership of 67,941 in 923 schools, and over the past two years, just over 500 new clubs were established in primary, all-age and high schools across the country.
“What this tangibly indicates is that not only is the 4-H movement come of age but it has demonstrated through the efforts of its leaders and clubbities that it has longevity,” he stated.
Dr. Tufton also paid tribute to the founding fathers for their hard work in establishing and maintaining the organisation, and pointed to the need to strengthen partnerships to expand the clubs’ activities.
“We want to strengthen partnerships.in expanding the activities of the 4-H movement. We want to see others come on board to be a part of the efforts that have already gone into serving this 70-year old institution and have gone into creating nearly 68,000 clubbites,” he stated.
This year’s exposition was the culmination of a series of parish and regional achievement day events held during the months of March and April under the theme: ‘Youth Involvement in Local Food Production for Sustainability’.
Clubbities from the 14 parishes displayed their skills and competed for honours in areas of agriculture, home economics, environment and leadership development, among others.
The Boy of the Year award went to 17-year old Manchester farmer, Kevaughn Bonner, who won the 2009 Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Agriculture. Natasha Smith, also from Manchester, was named the Girl of the Year.
The Central Region, which comprises the parishes of Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon, was declared the winning 4-H region.
Pioneer club leader, Ruby Wilson and noted agriculturalist, Dr. Karl Wellington, were the recipients of this year’s Clover Award, which is presented annually to persons, who have served the 4-H movement and the field of agriculture, with distinction.
Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Lenworth Fulton expressed pleasure at the strong turnout for the event and the high level of competition. “This is our flagship competitive event and one of which I am always proud,” he said.
He informed that a number of events are being planned for the 70th anniversary celebrations, including a banquet/award ceremony for September or November.
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs is the youth arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and has as its mandate, the training of young persons between the ages of five to 25 years in areas of agriculture, home economics, environmental management, leadership and social skills.