The Jamaica 4-H Clubs has been providing technical assistance primarily to youth farmers to help them to overcome various challenges, while introducing them to proper farming techniques.
In a recent interview with JIS News, Executive Director, Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake, said the technical assistance provided by his organisation would enhance the work of extension officers and the services they provide to farmers.
“One of the things that our staff members were able to do was to complement the technical services within the Ministry of Agriculture [and Fisheries] and we went out there, because most of our field staff are agriculturally trained. They went out and help to provide technical information, particularly to youth farmers, but we did not discriminate,” he told JIS News.
Agricultural extension officers advise farmers, agricultural businesses, rural industries, among others, on the production, processing and distribution of farm products.
The officers form part of the agricultural extension services that are provided through various programmes and projects, aimed at enabling farmers to cope with potential and evolving challenges and risks and see how best they can survive and maintain productivity.
Mr. Blake said that in addition to the extension services, training was provided to volunteers and voluntary groups via webinars to help them retool in various skill areas.
“We also took the opportunity to strengthen our online capabilities, did a lot of training of our volunteers, especially in the use of technology, to complement what we would have done in the past,” he told JIS News.
He added, too, that training materials were provided to members.
In the meantime, Dr. Blake is encouraging more persons to get into agriculture in the coming year.
“It’s really a good time for any youngster to get into agriculture. We are seeing some excellent trends in agriculture, and the programmes at the 4-H Clubs have allowed for a lot more persons to get agricultural education,” he said.
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs was established in 1940. According to the 4-H Act of 1966, it is the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ youth training arm committed to developing outstanding leaders with marketable skills. The 4-H’s core function is to provide training to persons between the ages of five and 25 in agriculture, home economics, social skills, entrepreneurship, environmental awareness and healthy lifestyles.
The Movement seeks to provide a cadre of trained young leaders, capable of contributing to national development.
The National School Garden Programme, which is also managed by the 4-H Clubs, teaches clubbites agricultural and environmental practices and contributes to the National School Feeding Programme.