Diaspora group creates ‘Young Soldiers for Food Security’

Diaspora group creates ‘Young Soldiers for Food Security’

Friday, August 05, 2016

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Farm Up Jamaica Limited (FUJL) has implemented a ‘Young Soldiers for Food Security’ (YSFS) programme aimed at encouraging more of the country’s youth to get involved in agriculture.

The non-profit organisation, established in 2013 to assist local farmers in the cultivation of organic produce, comprise of Jamaicans living in the diaspora.

Executive Director of FUJL Neil Curtis said YSFS is a "deliberate push" to engage the youth in farming after realising that the majority of the people in the sector are over 50 years old.

"Students from several agriculture schools get the opportunity to gain practical farming experience by working on our organic farms every weekend, and this helps them to consider farming as an alternative career path," he explained.

Curtis, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, said that in addition to the experience, the youngsters receive a stipend, transportation, room and boarding.

"We understand that farming is not the most attractive profession, so we do all that we can to encourage them and advise them to look beyond the dirt to see the unlimited potential, and also for the growth in their country’s economy," Curtis said.

He explained that students who do well in the YSFS programme are offered job placement at FUJL with profit-sharing and entrepreneurship opportunities.

They are assigned one-acre farms, business plans, technical support and assistance in accessing markets.

"We are creating a generation of farmers, and these are students who will carry the torch and help safeguard food security," he noted.

Curtis said the project will help to ensure continuity in the sector.

"It will positively impact the ageing farming communities while preparing them (the youth) to transition into Jamaica’s next generation of environmentally conscious farmers," he said.

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