JIS News

The National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC), is advocating active participation of seniors in economic activities, many of whom are still operating their farms, with help from the Council.
Regional Co-ordinator for the Senior Citizens Programme in St Ann, Carmen Wilson, has reported that several seniors in her area are involved in farming, and would be taking an active part in Senior Citizens’ Week, to be celebrated in September, Senior Citizens’ Month.
“They are involved both in backyard and small farming,” Mrs. Wilson said, “and many are involved in our ‘Grow what we eat. Eat what we grow’ programme, through which they grow cash crops and vegetables.” She said the crops are used for their own consumption, while some are sold and donated for meals for seniors.
“Two outstanding farmers are Una Phillips, who is in her 80s and Rupert Brown, who is in his 70s. Mrs. Phillips was given a calf by The West Indies Aluminum Company (WINDALCO). She was able to raise and breed the calf and now has four heifers. She sells milk to a local processor and recently sold one of her cows. The other farmer, Mr. Brown, has a small farm and grows coffee, sweet potato and yam,” she told JIS News.
Mrs. Wilson pointed out that the Council is working closely with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), which provides technical support for the farmers and helps with technical inputs, including seeds and fertiliser.
The NCSC operates islandwide. A part of its policy is to facilitate participation of seniors in economic activities and offer opportunities for them to share their expertise, skills and experience. The Council also helps seniors to maintain a certain level of independent living and at the same time fosters inter-generational linkages, whereby they pass on skills to the younger generation, who in turn assists them in several ways.
Mrs. Wilson explained that the Council arranges farm days, particularly in very rural districts. “On farm days, youth club members help senior farmers to prepare land, sow seeds or reap crops as necessary. Some young persons even help them with the selling of produce,” she told JIS News.
The Council also contributes to rural development and quality of life, by helping these senior farmers to stay in viable income earning ventures, support themselves and contribute to the economic development of Jamaica.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, in his Sectoral presentation earlier this year, highlighted the fact that Jamaica’s farmers were aging and hence the need for young persons to enter the field, which is being fostered through the Council’s inter-generational programme.