More youth embracing farming, says 4-H boss
Executive director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Dr Ronald Blake presents an award at a previous staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show held in Clarendon.

MORE Jamaicans, especially the youth, are taking up farming as a lucrative profession, says executive director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Dr Ronald Blake.

He noted that with an average farmer age of 48.7 years, Jamaica has one of the youngest farmer populations in the world, where the average age is 60.

Moreover, he argued "the data [prove] that the multiplier effect of putting a dollar in agriculture is better than putting it in almost any other sector in this country".

Dr Blake was speaking at a handover ceremony for lease agreements to youth farmers at the Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon on Tuesday.

The initiative is part of the Agro-Investment Corporation's 'Youth in Agriculture' programme and is supported by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

Dr Blake noted that the newly leased lands, which are spread across agro-parks and production zones, are "some of the best farmlands in the country".

"The number of applications received shows that the demand for spaces is high and indicates further that "young people want to get into farming".

"There is no better investment," he added.

He credited the improved attractiveness of the agriculture sector to the work of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs for more than eight decades.

"We have continuously streamed a lot of young people, who don't only come in the sector because they are sent but because they have a passion for it," he said.

"The young people who have decided not to turn to something else, but they are [farming] the land, I say to you, you have made the right decision and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs is there to support you," he added.

This year, 1,000 young Jamaicans will benefit from the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP), which is the Jamaica 4-H Clubs' entrepreneurial training initiative that offers various forms of assistance and development opportunities to trainees.

"We are training you and we are guiding you over the rough parts. Eighty per cent of small enterprises fail in the first two years but we are getting an almost 70 per cent success rate," Dr Blake said.

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