Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton, has said that an initiative to attract younger players to the agricultural sector, Young Farmers Project (YFP), is taking shape.
He said that the project, aimed at youths aged 18-35, will generate employment among the target groups, especially those in rural communities.
“It will provide commodities, inclusive of both crops and livestock, to contracted markets on a consistent basis. Lands for this venture have already been indentified in various parishes and are already outfitted with the necessary irrigation facilities, as well as other infrastructure,” he told the Quarterly Meeting of the Manchester Parish Development Committee, on Wednesday (April 28), at the Ridgemount United Church, Mandeville.
He outlined that some 15 investors have already benefited under the programme, through the provision of lands in the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester.
Chief Technical Director at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton (centre), speaking with Agriculture Specialist with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Vincent Thomson (left). Mayor of Mandeville, Councillor Brenda Ramsay is seated at first. They were in attendance at the Quarterly Meeting of the Manchester Parish Development Committe on Wednesday (April 28), held at the Ridgemount United Church, Mandeville.
“In addition to land access, some of the farmers have been provided with irrigation equipment valued at over $520,000, on a lien, loan basis. Access to such equipment has assisted their operations, and has offset a portion of the initial costs associated with getting involved in an agricultural investment venture,” he stated.
Dr. Panton told the gathering that the Government is not only creating new opportunities for persons joining the agricultural sector, but they have partnered with donor agencies to undertake critical projects to enhance productivity and the attractiveness of farming.
He named the Improved Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project for greenhouse construction, as one of many initiatives to keep agriculture on a sustain growth path.
The project is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), at a cost of $343,294,187, and the Government of Jamaica, $103,336,675, and was conceptualized by the Ministry in conjunction with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). Components include greenhouse production and fisheries rehabilitation. The Ministry, through its international partners, has provided opportunities for job creation in the sector.
He said that, as part of the Ministry’s support for consistent growth in the sector, some 3,000 square feet of greenhouses, outfitted with ferti-irigation systems, have been procured and distributed to farmers. Technical capacity in greenhouse construction has been significantly improved, with the development of the first Jamaica Greenhouse Manual, which is being used in the sub-sector. And a number of short term jobs have been created at greenhouse installations within the main cluster parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth.
“Our aim is not to tell you to become farmers, but we are saying, when you plant we will assist you in garnering markets for those produce,” Dr. Panton stated.