JIS News

The Rose Hall 4-H training centre in St. Catherine is providing opportunities for young persons to grow academically and socially by equipping them with skills, which will enable them to become productive citizens.
Dermayne McCalla, a student of Spanish Town High School, is just one of the thousands of clubbites from the parish, who have benefited from the training courses offered at the centre.
“It has been very good, because it has been informative and brought out a lot in me. It has made me more intelligent, a better person to work with, and who can sit and talk with others,” says Dermayne.
As president of his school’s club and executive member of the St. Catherine Junior Leader’s Council, Dermayne says he finds time after school to take part in a range of activities, including cake-making, sewing, making of bead chains and teddy bears and training in clothing and textile at the Rose Hall training facility.
He hopes that more young persons will join the club so as to participate in these activities.”I would encourage young persons to get involved because 4-H has a lot of activities,” he adds, informing that he will be entering the cake-making competition at the St. Catherine 4-H clubs parish achievement day, slated for March 16 at the Friendship Primary School.
A yearly event organized by the 4-H movement, the achievement day showcases the talent of young people and the services offered by the organization.
Another clubbite, Christina Buchanan, student of Bog Walk High School and recently appointed public relations officer of the Junior Leader’s Council, tells JIS News that her five years with the 4-H movement have helped her to develop leadership qualities.
“I have learnt the value of being responsible, to value time and respect other people, younger and older,” Christina says, adding that she has developed skills such as cake baking, table setting, sewing and public speaking.
Parish Development Officer, Collin Woodham notes that the centre provides training opportunities for clubbites and leaders in disciplines such as agriculture, rabbit care and management, poultry care and management, production of eggs and broiler meat, cattle training, citrus training, plant propagation, cake making, home-making, garment construction and leadership. He says that school and church clubs are invited to the centre from time to time, to participate in training sessions.
In addition, he says, 4-H parish officers or representatives from various government organizations such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) Social Development Commission (SDC), National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) and the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) visit schools, especially those without 4-H clubs, to assist with skills training programmes.
“We believe that the training we offer is making a positive impact on the lives of our young people. They are becoming more aware of environmental issues, of opportunities, which are offered at the society at large. They are becoming more self-confident, having developed skills and having developed competences in these skills. They feel good about themselves, they have high self esteem and they continue to strive to achieve more,” he points out.
The parish officer, who is responsible for the development of 4-H clubs in schools and communities, notes that although funds are provided by government for the management of the centre, more resources are needed to cater for the 2,958 registered clubbites and 58 clubs in the parish.
The need for addition resources becomes more urgent with membership expected to increase by the end of the year. “We know the government don’t have all the resources.but we can certainly do well with more staff to carry out the functions,” Mr. Woodham says.
He notes that staff has been using creative means as well as encouraging volunteerism, where possible, to get the job done. “We have a job. We must get the job done and we will do all that is possible within our power and with the limited resources available to do as good a job that we can,” he adds.
In addition to training young persons, the Rose Hall Centre, under the supervision of a project manager, produces crops and livestock.
On its four-hectare (10-acre) property, there is a two-hectare plot of citrus intercropped with vegetables such as pumpkin, callaloo, pakchoy, okras, peppers, and cucumbers. The produce is sold to the AMC Complex in Spanish Town, the organisations’s head office in Kingston and the Jamaica Citrus Growers Limited in Bog Walk. Last year, some 200 boxes of oranges were sold to the citrus company.
Additionally, the centre has set up an organic citrus plot intercropped with scotch bonnet peppers, vegetables and papayas, for the demonstration of organic food production to clubbites and 4-H leaders attending training sessions.
“Most of the industrialised countries are going that way. They are demanding much more organic produce and as such, all of the ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific) countries need to go that way. Many of them have done so ..we believe that in order to move our agriculture forward and to take the next generation into that, we need to train our young minds towards that end,” says Training Manager, Clive Pullen.
He told JIS News, that the plan is to move into organic farming, but notes that the process will require certification. “We understand it, and we are gearing ourselves to creating that system,” he points out.
According to Mr. Pullen, the move to grow crops organically started some two years ago with assistance from the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM), an agency within the Ministry of Agriculture.
In an effort to reduce the use of manufactured fertilizer, the centre has established a compost heap made up of all kinds of organic material, including litter from the poultry farm, vegetable waste to generate organic fertilizer.
On the farms, weeds are not killed by chemicals, instead they are cut and allowed to break down into organic material.” In addition, the practice of crop rotation helps to safeguard crops against pests and diseases.
Poultry rearing is another major activity at the centre. Currently, there are three coops containing 1,500 birds with a laying capacity of about 30 to 40 dozen eggs per day. Mr. Pullen says that more than half of the eggs produced are sold to community bakeries, while the remainder is sold to the project shop at the 4-H headquarters.
Meanwhile, the centre is looking to re-introduce rabbit rearing. The project went downhill after some 80 doe and 10 bucks were destroyed by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Mr. Pullen says the project should be “up and running” since the Food and Agriculture Organization and the government have agreed to fund the project.
“We have just had a steering committee meeting and that committee is fully in gear. The fund is already here so we want to start that rabbit project in another month or so,” he informs. He notes that the project will be executed in three parts, to comprise the building of rabbit hutches, the training of clubbites, and research into growing organic fodder for the rabbits.
Apiculture is another main activity at the centre. The activity was scaled down during the 1980s as a result of foulbrood diseases and other viruses, but with the growing demand for honey locally and overseas, and the renewed focus by the Ministry of Agriculture on the revitalization of the bee industry, the project has been re-introduced at the centre. “At present, we have 20 colonies and growing. Some of them are doing so well we have .10 boxes, possibly 20 boxes of honey,” he informs.
Mr. Pullen has high praise for the government agencies in the parish that have been assisting with training programmes at the Rose Hall centre over the years. Additionally, he spoke of a grant from the Community for Voluntary and Social Services (CVSS) for the replacement of the roof as well as the provision of birds and poultry units, which were destroyed by recent hurricanes.
In terms of the sustainability of the centre, Mr. Pullen says, “the money that is made here falls back into sustaining other projects.”
He says there is a close working relationship with the community, so there is no problem with praedial larceny. “People from the community come to get training so they see it as part of their project,” he adds.