Desrond Gray making his mark in Desrond Gray making his mark in AGRITOURISM

Career & Education

Desrond Gray making his mark in Desrond Gray making his mark in AGRITOURISM

Sunday, November 17, 2019

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Nestled in the community of Norwood Gardens in Montego Bay, St James is D'Boss Agricultural Produce and Exotic Animals.

What started out as a collection of exotic birds has emerged into one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jamaica's second city. It boasts over 50 different species of birds, polish chicken, ducks, peacocks, silky chickens and other rare types of birds.

Desrond Gray, a 27-year-old whose love for birds started at the age of 12, is the owner and operator of the attraction, which he set up to capitalise from the development of his community and the parish's growing tourism sector.

“My first interaction with birds happened when I was around 12 years of age. My neighbour, Mr Alvin Logan, gave me my first pair of pigeons as a reward to me for helping him care for his animals. After getting myself acquainted with nature and relating to the birds, my affection for them began to grow,” Gray recalled.

Unlike his parents who were small farmers in the community, Gray decided that birds were his main interest. To establish his budding business, he sourced materials such as old refrigerator cages and board frames to build cages for the birds. Within a year, his flock had grown to over 100 pigeons, which he would later sell to pet stores and private bird collectors. All of this happened while he attended Erwin High in St James.

Later on, he ventured into rearing goats and pigs, as well as cash crops.

The success of his first business venture prompted his transition to breeding dogs and grooming them for local dog shows. He sold all his birds and housed his premium collection of pitbulls, along with pigs and broiler birds, which he raised with the assistance of a colleague.

During this time, Montego Bay welcomed the opening of Riu, an all-inclusive resort, which was in close proximity of Gray's farm. As infrastructure improved across the city, he used the opportunity to reshape his operation, and to capitalise on the possible surge in visitors to the area.

Exploring his options in the agritourism industry, Gray decided to get back into raising birds, but he opted for exotic birds.

To attract tourists, Gray built a fruit stand in front of his farm. While the tourists enjoyed the flavours of Jamaican fruits, he would invite them to view his collection of birds. He also marketed his farm to tourists with the assistance of tour operators and people who worked within the tourism industry.

“We get a lot of tourists without even having to sell the birds. So, it has been profitable for us,” Gray revealed.

He said that support from the community has fuelled his passion to continue his business.

“I have always been motivated by persons from my community because they have always known me as a young entrepreneur from an early age. From early on, they knew that I was going to be successful at what I did,” he explained.

Gray sources his exotic birds from across the island. He also has plans to expand the business operation.

“We have already started some amount of expansion. We also plan on adding a restaurant to the farm, where persons can try out eggs and meat from these exotic birds,” he shared.

After four years in operation, Gray is proud of his achievements.

“This is a great opportunity to show the youth of Jamaica just how valuable agriculture is and how one can achieve their goals out of it,” said Gray, who is a Nutramix Youth in Agriculture ambassador. “There has always been this misconception by young people that agriculture is not a good image for them, and I can proudly say that this is far from the truth.”

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