Ministry wants more youth in agriculture
THE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is undertaking several initiatives aimed at attracting more youth to the sector, and boosting Jamaica's food security and export opportunities.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke, addressing this week's launch of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs National Achievement Expo in Kingston, said among the initiatives is the Youth in Agriculture programme which seeks to introduce new technologies and knowledge to youngsters that will lead to diversified, modern farming practices, new crop varieties and animal strains, less soil pollution, a reduction of rural-urban migration, and increased employment for young people.
"We also have other strategies which we have employed for our youth such as the 4-H Club School Gardens and the Young Farmers Entrepreneurship Programme," he said, adding that some 430 gardens have been established in schools islandwide.
The future of the sector, said Clarke, resides with the young people, given their willingness to adapt to new ideas, concepts and technology.
"We are therefore looking to the younger farmers, those being trained in our agricultural institutions, to lead the way in implementing solutions to the threats we face in the agricultural sector," he said.
At the same time, he said the sector continues to face challenges such as climate change; greenhouse gases and carbon emissions; extended periods of drought; warmer sea surface temperatures; increasing frequency of flooding and changes in rainfall which will worsen soil erosion, lead to degradation and affect water quality.
"Government is exploring ways of lessening the impact of these challenges and increasing crop production and productivity through diversity. Diversification involves planting more drought resistant and high yielding crops, as well as the use of alternative sources of energy," Clarke told the launch.
He added that the increased use of greenhouse farming will not only minimise the potential impact of the weather on Jamaica's agricultural crops but allow for more efficient use of water, less usage of chemical for pests/disease control, and guarantee higher yields than open-field protection.
He commended the Jamaica 4-H Clubs for the excellent work it has been doing in training the nation's young people in agricultural skills, which he said, will influence them in choosing careers in agriculture and agro-related occupations.
The National Achievement Expo will be held at the Denbigh Showground in Clarendon from April 9 to 11 under the theme: 'Promoting Sustainable Agriculture, Impacting Climate Change'. It is the culmination of 14 parish achievement expos, which were held between February and March.