9 women celebrated at agriculture awards
At back, from left, Member of Parliament for St Thomas Eastern Dr Michelle Charles; awardees Bevene Martin Dickenson and Kateisha Allen; and Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Pearnel Charles Jr; and seated from left, awardees Donna McPherson, Olive Downer Walsh, Dr Gabrielle Young, Merlyn McAnuff and Dr Tanika O’Connor-Dennie.

NINE women working in agriculture were recognised at the Agriculturalist’s Distinguished Women in Agriculture awards ceremony, for stellar contributions to the sector.

Women account for roughly 32 per cent of registered farmers in Jamaica and have made noteworthy impact in the areas of veterinary medicine, beekeeping, fisheries and agribusiness.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr, in his address at the recent awards ceremony, said that over the next five years, he anticipates an increase in the number of women involved in agriculture.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries remains dedicated to contributing to that increase as we continue to build an environment in which our women can thrive, excel and make a lasting impact. Part of our strategic objective within the ministry is to ensure that at least 20 per cent of the beneficiaries of our programmes include women, youth and persons with disabilities,” Charles Jr said.

The ceremony was held at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston.

The minister also shared some of the initiatives that agencies within the ministry have facilitated to promote the inclusion of women in the agricultural space.

“The Rural Agricultural Development Authority has sought to ensure that at least 30 per cent of women are selected as beneficiaries of initiatives such as the production and productivity programme, drought mitigation, farmer field schools, on-farm water management, as well as other special projects implemented by the authority,” he said.

He also commended the efforts of the women, wishing them even greater success in their future endeavours.

“You are indeed a distinguished group of formidable women whose outstanding work has impacted many lives. I want to take this opportunity to further encourage you to use this recognition as fuel to continue to build to achieve greater things within the sector and to serve as an inspiration to other women who may be interested in a career in agriculture,” he said.

Other efforts to secure the participation of women within the sector include the work of the Jamaica Dairy Development Board in providing support to livestock farmers, as well as the focus of the Agro-Invesment Corporation on increasing access to agricultural lands.

Awardees included Bevene Martin Dickenson, most outstanding agricultural extension leader; Olive Downer Walsh, most outstanding agricultural inputs distributor; and Jannett Pullen, most outstanding farmers’ advocate. The most outstanding farm store operator award went to Doreen Brown-Lawson, while the most outstanding young farmer and apiculturalist award went to Kateisha Allen.

Donna McPherson and Merlyn McAnuff took home awards for most outstanding woman farmer; Dr Gabrielle Young for most outstanding veterinarian; and Dr Tanika O’Connor-Dennie for most outstanding livestock nutritionist.

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