JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Members of the Thompson Town branch of the Trelawny Branch Societies of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) have been blazing a trail in improving the lives of residents of the community through farming.
  • The area has a history of yam production, but in an effort to become more self-sufficient, Ms Pryce said, farmers have branched out into other root and vegetable crops, adding variety to the range of produce available from the community for local and international markets.
  • Among the crops produced are banana, plantain, carrots, sweet and hot peppers, sugar cane, Irish potato and other vegetables, and the traditional yam.

Members of the Thompson Town branch of the Trelawny Branch Societies of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) have been blazing a trail in improving the lives of residents of the community through farming.

The group, which is located 15 minutes away from Albert Town in Southern Trelawny, has a membership of approximately 60 farmers.

On a recent visit with members of the group, the JIS News team was taken on an extensive tour of several yam, banana, plantain and vegetable farms – covering hundreds of acres. These farms are under the management of young and older male and female farmers.

President of the Thompson Town branch, Althea Pryce, a farmer for more than 40 years, told JIS News that the farmers have been involved in a number of community development activities apart from farming, and this is to ensure that the quality of life of citizens of the community is improved.

Activities include repainting of the Sanguinetti Early Childhood Institution, providing funds to enable needy children to attend school, and caring for the disabled persons and shut-ins in the community.

The area has a history of yam production, but in an effort to become more self-sufficient, Ms Pryce said, farmers have branched out into other root and vegetable crops, adding variety to the range of produce available from the community for local and international markets.

Among the crops produced are banana, plantain, carrots, sweet and hot peppers, sugar cane, Irish potato and other vegetables, and the traditional yam.

“We take pride in the quality of yam we produce. The yellow yam is our number-one yam which is sold to people in the export business, hoteliers, restaurateurs and other purchasers who take our products to places such as the Coronation Market in Kingston. We also produce Sweet Yam, Lucea and Negro yams and they are all top-rated products,” Ms Pryce disclosed.

The Thompson Town JAS Branch was established in the 1990s and has steadily grown from eight members to more than 60. For many years it has made strong presentations at agricultural shows such as the Hague Agricultural and Livestock Show in Trelawny, and the annual Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon.

President Pryce said the Branch is on a mission to expand and increase production of traditional crops, although at times sourcing markets is an issue which they have to deal with.

“If we could get more aid we could expand on the number of crops which we produce… Seeds and other supplies are expensive, so we have to be selective in what we plant given the terrain and the weather conditions here in upper Trelawny. The only issue we have is overproduction at times which would call for additional markets to be opened up for us,” she stated.

Meanwhile, President Pryce is dispelling thoughts which some people may have about the profitability of farming, especially for women.

She said once the work is done, those involved, male or female, will reap the rich rewards of farming which is a “very profitable engagement” that helped to provide her children with a good education and to acquire a home.

“I have been in farming for at least 40 years and I can say, yes, it is dirty, but you can achieve things from it. It helps you to be independent… and I plan to stay in it for as long as I can manage. I am encouraging everyone, even if you have a main job, get into farming to secure your independence at the highest level,” Ms Pryce advised.