MODERN technologies and emerging opportunities are at the forefront of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) drive to make agriculture attractive to the next generation of young Jamaicans.
The NIC, an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, recently took part in the Minard Livestock Show and Beef Festival, held at the Minard Estate in Brown's Town, St Ann.
On display by the entity was a functioning irrigation model that demonstrated to onlookers, particularly the youth, the modern workings of irrigation systems and the various methods that can be employed.
The model came equipped with workable features such as drips, solar panels, a greenhouse and windmill, among others.
In an interview with JIS News, NIC's public relations specialist, Christine Forbes argued that as the country's primary provider of irrigation services, the entity recognises the value of capturing the attention of youngsters, on whom the sector's future is dependent.
"It [the model] shows them, from the source, where we get the water — whether it be from a river, from underground wells — and it shows them the different types of irrigation systems — whether it's sprinkler or drip — and it also shows the different types of crop farming. So, basically, we're showing them on one model what we're about and how we operate," Forbes explained.
"We want to expose them to agriculture, to know that this is the way to go. This is the way to go to ensure food security for the future and also to use cleaner energy in the production of water and agricultural systems to ensure that we are safeguarding the environment at the same time," she added.
Forbes further noted that the NIC's exhibition was also focused on sensitising youngsters about the different career paths available in the local agricultural sector, adding that too often the youth are of the view that agriculture is strictly about down-in-the-mud farming, when in fact the sector incorporates other careers.
"So we say to them, 'This is not just about farming. You can be an engineer, a lawyer, a communication specialist, an IT engineer, accountant, and the list goes on,' " she said.
The Minard Livestock Show and Beef Festival was held under the theme 'Smart Livestock Production — Safer, Cleaner, Better', through a partnership among the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB), Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Cattle Breeders Society of Jamaica, Agro-Investment Corporation, Nutramix and Discovery Bauxite.
It featured thousands of students from basic, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across Jamaica's 14 parishes.
The students participated in various activities to include a goat and calf scramble, sheep draw, livestock judging competitions, rabbit display and draw, beef festival and much more.