Career & Education

A tale of two passions

Roshedo WiIliams pairs law with agriculture

Sunday, September 01, 2019

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WHEN Roshedo Williams isn't in class at the University of Technology, Jamaica, where she is pursuing a law degree, she's running a farm in Hartland District, St Catherine.

The 25-year-old is the operations manager at Tropical Ornamental Fish Farm, one of Jamaica's largest. The role has her overseeing operational maintenance, purchase and delivery, and overall efficiency of the facility.

She isn't clear yet about which direction the study of law will take her, but she is dead set on ensuring that it reflect a marriage with farming, especially since she has already reaped some benefits of the symbiosis.

“Law thus far has helped with my negotiation skills, which I've used to acquire more land with the aim of expansion,” she told the Jamaica Observer, adding that her plans include buildng a greenhouse and growing ornamental plants.

“When I started my law degree, I wasn't as embedded as I am now in farming, so even though I was working at the farm at that time, four years ago, I didn't see myself as a farmer. It took me a while to embrace the fact that I loved being a farmer and I was good at it,” she said.

Williams is from Church Road, a small community in Bog Walk, St Catherine. She attended St Catherine Primary and St Catherine High schools. Her entry into agriculture was an unexpected one. At the age of 17, she was hired as an administrative assistant at the farm and after two years of handling basic documentation for the company, her curiosity for the operations grew, as did her passion for agriculture. Two years later, she was promoted to her current position.

She gave an insight into her daily responsibilities.

“As the days come the roles change,” she expalined. “My role is very dynamic; some days I feed the fish, while my employees take on the more difficult tasks, some days are spent doing administrative work. On other days, I fill orders for customers and make deliveries. But in most cases, I ensure that whatever the tasks are, that we complete them at the end of the day as efficiently as possible.”

Williams also executes a marketing campaign in which she targets high school students by inviting them to tour the farm. It's a means of educating young people about ornamental fishing and improving the country's involvement in the trade.

“The good times are always when we get visits from schools and you see the reaction from the students about the farm and the fish,” she told Career & Education.

She spoke about other reasons she enjoys working on the ornamental fish farm.

“It's difficult for me to say what I enjoy the most because I really enjoy watching the growth of the fish over a period of time. I also enjoy the complexity of the breeding process, and the fact that every single day you learn something new. There is never a day that you don't see something different or new,” said Williams.

“I think the first thing that made me sure that I was interested in ornamental fish farming is the quietness of the job. It affords me a lot of individual time to just meditate. There isn't a lot of people to people interaction on a daily basis, so initially I liked that idea,” she continued.

Williams is among 12 young people who were selected as Nutramix Youth in Agriculture brand ambassadors. She is also featured on the Nutramix 2019 calendar.

Speaking to what the selection means, the young woman said: “I was nervous, because no one had even thought to give me such an opportunity to speak about what I know and what I am passionate about. For me, it signified that the agricultural sector and the young people who chose this unconventional profession were finally being seen for adding value to the economy and society. All the knowledge that I was sharing on social media platforms didn't fall on deaf ears”.

As far as studying goes, Williams said she intends to pursue studies in agriculture with the aim of expanding not only her knowledge, but the buisness as well.

“Ornamental fish farming has the potential to be very lucrative. However, this is based on volumes, so in order to truly reap the benefits and see the highest returns, the aim is always to produce in large volumes,” she explained.

Tropical Ornamental Fish Farm is owned by Robert Yap.


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