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As the campaign to attract more young people into agriculture intensifies, the Ministry of Agriculture has committed some 2,000 hectares of farmlands to be divested to farmers islandwide, including a large percentage of young persons.
President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant said that such a commitment formed a major part of the Ministry’s three-year agricultural development strategy and that the JAS welcomed this and fully endorsed it.
He was addressing the annual general meeting of the St. James JAS Association of Branch Societies at the St. Johns Methodist Church Hall in Montego Bay, recently.
“The Jamaica Agricultural Society is hereby endorsing that strategy and commends the Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture for such an excellent move and pledges to give maximum support to the initiative, as we seek to give idle lands to some idle hands. We at the JAS will be actively identifying young people to be grouped in clusters and in some structured way to be recipients of these lands,” Senator Grants said.
He pointed out that the JAS would be complementing this by identifying the necessary and relevant organizations, such as the P-C Banks for funding, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to access the required training and the JAS to do the organized group work.
“This is what is known as the JAS Young Farmers Stimulation Programme and we will be actively working with the Ministry of Agriculture in expediting its wishes under that programme. In the first year, the programme will seek to target some 250 young people in a structured way, with 125 in the first phase and the other 125 in the second phase of that first year,” Senator Grant explained. “We want to go on record by saying that the JAS supports the Ministry of Agriculture’s development strategy as we feel that this is the right move. We feel that if it is implemented, it will give the agricultural sector a tremendous opportunity to drive the process of rural and economic development and we are committed to ensuring that these plans are implemented to the continued development of our farmers,” the JAS President added.
Senator Grant assured farmers at the meeting, that while the JAS applauded Government’s milestone achievements in the completion of several highways across the country, the society would be aggressively lobbying for better rural farm roads so that farmers could comfortably move their produce from their farms to the market.