JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture will be embarking on the first phase of its Young Farmers Entrepreneurship Programme early next month, with a 50-acre plot already identified for the young farmers to begin production.
“We are starting with a 50-acre block, so we are going to be immediately selecting 10 farmers to take up that 50-acre block,” said Project Manager for the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), Hershell Brown, as he addressed students of the Ebony Park HEART Academy, in Clarendon recently.
He said the initiative is one way of providing young farmers with the kind of support they would otherwise not have access to, noting that difficulty in acquiring working capital, had, for too long, prevented young graduates of agricultural institutions from getting into productive agriculture.
“The Government is seeking to identify a new breed of farmers, who can rise to the challenges of today, and so the Young Farmers project was conceptualised. We are starting with graduates of agricultural schools, and there is a reason for this. Over the years, graduates have been saying that they have not been given the opportunity to make operational, what they have learnt, and we are now saying to them, this is your opportunity,” he stated.
Under the project, the Government will also provide farm roads, office space, fencing, irrigation, assistance with credit and access to markets and “also because we have discovered that it is easier to deliver service in groups, we will assist with group formation and training,” Mr. Brown informed.
In the meantime, he stated that the Ministry would be working to maximise agricultural output, to cut back on the high level of importation, and capitalise on the expanding export market.
“Over the years, Jamaica has been importing a lot of products that can be grown here in Jamaica. Things like onion, Irish potato, hot peppers, escallion, all of those. Those are things that we have the capacity to grow, and we are going to be seeking to reduce significantly, the amount that is imported. There is also a demand for exports. Our hot pepper has found favour in a number of areas in Canada and the United States, and we are going to be aggressively seeking to take over those markets,” he informed.
General Agriculture student at Ebony Park, Damion Wallington, said that agriculture was the single most important field young people should consider at this time, and the Government’s initiative was a welcome one, as it would open doors to youngsters who would otherwise not be able to find employment opportunities.

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