Agro-processing learning lab opens at Knockalva Polytechnic CollegeThursday, April 01, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Agro-processing learning lab at the Knockalva Polytechnic College in Ramble, Hanover, was officially opened yesterday.
The lab will help prepare students for agro-processing and the wider world of agribusiness, while providing greater access to tertiary education for people in western Jamaica.
Speaking at the virtual ceremony, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, said the lab will allow Knockalva to produce better quality students, targeted in the direction that the ministry is going.
“This is to move from just being primary producers to agro-processors to enhancing our value chain development, to ensure that we are taking Jamaica to the world, not just by way of our fresh produce but by some of the best agro processed items you can find,” he added.
Green said the trained students will be able to work in some of the biggest agro-processing companies in the island and, undoubtedly, continue with the development of agro-processing in the country.
He challenged the students to research the demand across the world for specific Jamaican products, such as the Jamaican black castor oil, and develop products that will fulfil the demand.
The minister commended all the partners who have been working together to develop a modern, research-based, sustainable agricultural sector.
“I could not think of a better institution to have this housed, an institution that for decades has been focused on agricultural training and with a wonderful team of professionals that ensure we make the most out of this agro-processing learning lab. I want to thank FH360 Team, the Advance Programme, and the USAID for investing in this support,” he said.
In her remarks, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams, said upgrading of the agricultural school to a polytechnic college in 2018 was aimed at broadening the range of courses offered at the institution to meet labour-market demands in various sectors, such as creative, logistics, engineering and sports, while continuing to focus on agriculture.
“Today's launch of the agro-processing learning lab is, therefore, an important step in fulfilling that mandate,” she said.
Williams urged young people to see this as an opportunity to carve a niche in the agro-industry sector, noting that modern food-processing industries use a variety of techniques to preserve food, maintain its consistency and facilitate its availability throughout the year.
“We at the ministry also see this as complementary to our efforts to expand training in technical and vocational training programmes. The ministry is committed to working with training institutions and industry players to increase the talent pool of trained, competent and certified persons ready for employment in various sectors, including agro industry and allied fields,” she said.
Williams added that the ministry will continue consultations with human resource managers of companies to ascertain labour market information.
The goal of the USAID Advance Programme is that more young people, especially those from disadvantaged populations, obtain new or better employment.
Based on a labour market sector review, Advance supports the development/strengthening of academic programmes aligned with: agribusiness, creative industries and health and wellness tourism. Advance partners with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, Vocational Training and Development Institute and the University of Technology.
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