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PM's youth award winner continues to blaze trail in agriculture

Thursday, January 09, 2014    

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THE 2010 recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister's Youth Award for Excellence in Agriculture, Nicholas Powell, continues to blaze a trail in the sector.

In addition to acquiring a green house, Powell, who hails from Mount Pleasant in Manchester, manages several others, and has increased his acreage to produce yam, sweet potato and cocoa.

The 27-year-old farmer has been involved in the sector from an early age and has won several other awards, including the Jamaica Agricultural Society's National Young Champion Farmer for three consecutive years -- 2010 to 2012 -- and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture Award in 2012.

"I have continued to be active in agricultural production and I have expanded since 2010. I now have a 4,800 sq ft greenhouse, and my farm has increased to some 27 acres. I am also doing new crops, such as ginger, and a lot more yam, cocoa and lettuce," he told JIS News.

The young entrepreneur plans to expand the marketing of his produce internationally, but having done his research, he admits it would be challenging.

"I'm really looking to expand as it relates to the overseas market...that's something I want to tap into in the near future. But you know with overseas, you have to deal with your broker's licence to get into the market over there," Powell said.

"It's a whole new ball game. When you're talking about overseas, you have to have the right amount, so hopefully in the next couple of years, I can expand my production significantly where I can tap into the overseas market," he added.

Powell, who in 2008 successfully completed a course in tissue culture, and was awarded a certificate by the Christiana Potato Growers Cooperative Association, hopes to incorporate this method at his farm in the future.

Tissue culture uses numerous techniques to grow and maintain plant tissues, cells and organs in a sterile and controlled environment, usually in a laboratory. He pointed out that tissue culture produces disease free plants, which can result in greater yields in production, among other benefits.

"In moving agriculture forward, it [tissue culture] is something I would want to get involved in when I've established myself enough and have enough capital to take on such a venture," Powell says.

Powell who works from nine different locations, has created employment for 20 persons to assist him with production and management.

The electrical engineering graduate from the University of Technology has implored young people with ideas for the agricultural or other sectors, to push ahead and achieve their goals.

"Whenever you stop fighting you fail to exist. People can't really stop you in life, they can only slow you down. Always look forward, not looking down," he said.

Powell, meanwhile, commended the organsers of the Prime Minister's Youth Award, noting that it is the highest award for young persons under 24 years old.

— JIS

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