JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica’s food security and productivity are expected to be boosted by the newly launched ‘School of Agriculture’
  • School will be focusing on an “upskilling philosophy methodology” that seeks to advance the skills of existing farmers as well as target new entrants looking at a career in agriculture. 
  • Ministry, wants to put thousands of acres of idle lands into production “to make sure [agriculture’s] contribution to GDP is very, very high.” 

Jamaica’s food security and productivity are expected to be boosted by the newly launched ‘School of Agriculture’ at the Institute of Vocational and Professional Training (IVPT) in Bushy Park, St Catherine.  

In an official event on Thursday (May 26) on the school grounds, Executive Chairman, Mr Randy Finnikin, said the Institution is “seeking to cement the formalisation of training that leads to certification in agriculture.” 

He explained that some aspects of agriculture have been taught at IVPT over the past 15 years, but not as broadly as the five other programmes in the School of Health, School of Business, School of Driving, School of Hospitality and the School of Construction.  

“When the pandemic hit, we recognised that questions around food security were becoming more and more of an issue and therefore we felt as a school, that it was opportune to bring the School of Agriculture to the forefront and to push enrolment in agriculture training,” Mr Finnikin told JIS News. 

He said the school will be focusing on an “upskilling philosophy methodology” that seeks to advance the skills of existing farmers as well as target new entrants looking at a career in agriculture.  

Major partners for the venture are Jamaica Broilers, Calyx Services and the HEART Trust/NSTA which joined other organisations in making booth displays and presentations at Thursday’s launch. 

In the keynote address, Principal Director (Acting), Economic Planning and Policy at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Kevin Condappa, pointed out that, “as a country we cannot go wrong when it comes to deliberate focus on agriculture as it is a major engine of growth.” 

He informed that agriculture “supports livelihoods, builds communities, and drives the achievement of national goals, contributing between 7-8% of GDP and directly employing in excess of 200,000 persons.” 

Mr Condappa commended the IVPT for its beekeeping programme which is currently its flagship agricultural project that has produced the Institution’s own brand of spring fresh honey and bee products. 

Director of Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC), Dr Al Powell, in his contribution, noted that his organisation, which is the business-facilitation arm of the ministry, wants to put thousands of acres of idle lands into production “to make sure [agriculture’s] contribution to GDP is very, very high.” 

He introduced students to several financing opportunities dedicated to the agricultural sector such as loans and grants from the Exim Bank, Development Bank of Jamaica and JN Bank. 

When IVPT’s school of agriculture officially gets underway with its first cohort, one Nathaniel Fogah will be present in classes.  

“Agriculture is a must for the society and I am definitely looking forward to learning about agriculture in science,” the youngster, who is already a Level Two Welding and Level Three Electrical student told JIS News.  

The IVPT is the training arm of the Spring Village Development Foundation. Over 33,000 individuals have been trained by the institution since its inception. Enrolment for the School of Agriculture’s new suite of courses is scheduled to begin in June. 

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