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The Jamaica Agricultural Society’s (JAS) National Farm Queen finalists are advocating greater youth involvement in agriculture, and the utilization of technology to ensure that Jamaica attains food security, this, against the background of the prevailing global food crisis.
Third runner-up, Jennivise Lindsay said that young people should get involved in agriculture, as this field could serve to strengthen Jamaica’s economic independence.
“The main issue here is food security, and the agricultural sector has the potential to assist greatly in the country’s economic independence. With the latest technologies that are available, we as young people can drive food production to a level not seen for a long time,” Miss Lindsay told JIS News during last weekend’s Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show in Clarendon.
Second runner-up, Crystalee Carter, noted that the availability of more scholarships could pique the interest of young people in agriculture.
“I believe that we can attain food sufficiency. When I entered the Farm Queen competition, I was looked down on; people thought that I was too small to do well in it. But their feelings about me built my confidence and made me a winner. With the curriculums in schools slanted toward agricultural technology, and with more scholarships available for persons to enter agricultural colleges, we will see more young people looking to agriculture as a career, and it will help in the increase of food production,” she argued.
National Farm Queen, Yakisha Davis, pointed out that with the central focus being greater youth involvement in agriculture, they are responding in a positive way.
“In this regard, the Minister of Agriculture is leading the way. He has asked that more young persons be employed to RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority), and we are seeing it happening. The Governor-General, at the recent Denbigh show, made recommendations on ways to attract youth to agriculture; and a great effort was made on Labour Day to have persons plant their back yards. A lot of young people are involved in it, and I believe that the concept is a wonderful one to help in us feeding ourselves,” Ms Davis stated.
Commenting on this year’s Farm Queen Competition, Miss Davis described it as a team event that bonded the competitors.
“We worked together; if one person had information that could help another person in the competition, it was shared. The event was about building each other,” she outlined. Further that, lecturer at the College of Agriculture, Science, and Education (CASE) in Portland, Lloyd Bailey taught them to “share in order to rise.
“We carried it in the competition and were friends and sisters, and have maintained a stronger bond, even though the competition is no longer on,” Miss Davis pointed out.
Mr. Bailey said the queens were ideally suited to promote agriculture. “I know them all by name.. I taught them. A few years ago, I told Miss Davis that she was going to become a great agriculturist, (and) it has started. I believe that they are great ambassadors to promote agriculture,” he assured.