JAS honours 20 women in agriculture
Ulrica Edwards (right) is presented with her with her award by the RJRGleaner Communications Group’s Joy Bennett.

THE Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) on Wednesday awarded 20 women from across different areas of influence in the country’s agricultural sector, for the sterling contributions they have made to drive the industry forward.

The awards were handed out during the annual Women in Agriculture conference at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston, under the theme, “The Achievers”.

Minister of state in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Franklin Witter, in his contribution, hailed the importance of women in the sector.

“From farming, fisheries, research and development to veterinary medicine, agro-processing, policy development, agri-business and other areas, women have taken up the mantle to lead in their respective roles, while also guiding others, including the youth,” Witter said.

He said a goal of the agriculture ministry is for at least 20 per cent of beneficiaries of its programmes to include women. Additionally, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), at least 30 per cent of the target group selected for initiatives such as the production and productivity programme, drought mitigation and farmer field schools are women.

Witter said access to agricultural lands by female farmers remains a priority of the ministry, with the Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC) allocating 20 per cent of government-owned lands to youth, including women (aged 17 to 35), for agribusiness projects.

Political ombudsman and guest speaker Donna Parchment-Brown reminded that women farmers “are not novelty”.

“[You] are not something cute and interesting but something fundamental and valuable,” she told awardees, while noting that their track record of excellence indicates that the future of Jamaica’s agricultural sector can be bright.

Among the 20 selected women are Citerina Atkins of Manchester who was awarded the prime minister’s youth award for excellence in agriculture and agro-processing in 2020, and named Caricom Young Farmer of the Year in 2021. Atkins has consistently contributed to the advancement of crop production in New Hall district since 2018.

Also awarded is educator and mentor Sharna-Gay Davis of Westmoreland, who was crowned the National Farm Queen in 2011/12. Through her prowess and vast agricultural knowledge, Davis was elevated to head of the agricultural science department at the Mannings School.

St Thomas trailblazer Pansy Murphy joins the list of awardees. She is a retired educator who has made invaluable contributions to Hayfield Primary and Port Morant Primary schools and is now the treasurer of the JAS Port Morant branch.

Completing the list of phenomenal women are Veronica Burgess, Sadie Dixon-Bennett, Dianne Dormer, Ulrica Edwards, Velecia Johnson, Clover Laguerre, Danielle McGregor, Althea Mckenzie, Pauline Mighty, Beverley Miller, Lisa Morgan, Sonia Morgan, Marvalee Russell, Lydia Tucker, Carol Wilson, Winsome Crosby-Delaney, and Gabrielle Young.

This brings to 60 the number of women the JAS has highlighted under its phenomenal women programme, since 2018/19.

Velecia Johnson (right) receives her award from Joy Bennett of the RJRGleaner Communications Group.

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