As Jamaica slowly returns to some semblance of normalcy after the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montego Bay Acting Mayor Richard Vernon is urging young people to get involved in agriculture, to strengthen the Jamaican agricultural sector as a viable business.
Vernon made the call on Monday as he addressed the organization of the 2022 Montpelier Agricultural Show in Montpelier, St James. The event, held under the theme “Rebuilding Stronger Agriculture”, marked the resumption of agricultural shows across Jamaica since the pandemic forced the suspension of all such activities.
“The world is about to start the fourth revolution, but too many of our farming communities are stuck in the second revolution. Consequently, farming becomes unattractive to our younger generation, driving young people away from this practice, which puts the future of farming in limbo,” Vernon said in his speech, referring to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. which focuses on rapid changes in technology, industries and societal patterns. in the 21st century.
“For agriculture to be sustainable, young people need to be fully engaged, not because they can’t find a job, but because they make it their main activity. The money is in it, it’s a profession and it will make our economy thrive,” Vernon added. “I invite the young people of our wonderful municipality to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the agricultural sector, which is essential to safeguarding the country’s food security and increasing the growth of the sector.
The acting mayor argued that Jamaica’s long-standing problem of unemployment should be a thing of the past because of the land available for farming.
SAFEGUARDING FOOD SECURITY
“With so much arable land in Jamaica, unemployment should be zero. We need to support ourselves and supply the Caribbean region, and we need to have at least 80% of our agriculture sector in the third revolution,” Vernon said. “I encourage young people to take advantage of government grants, the land the government provides for agriculture and the capacity development it provides, to strengthen agriculture and fill the gaps in food production.”
Vernon was echoing a call made earlier this year by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, who called for the involvement of young people in developing solutions to the challenges facing the agricultural sector.
Over the years, concerns have been raised among those involved in agriculture that young people continue to shun the sector, seeing it as an unattractive vocation. There has also been concern that young farmers are not replacing older farmers, as the latter group is gradually disappearing over time.
Last year in January, Jamaica’s 4-H Clubs sought to introduce new programs in 2021 to engage more young Jamaicans in agriculture, training 500 young farmers over a three-month period.
Meanwhile, Charles, who also spoke at the Montpellier Agricultural Show, said Jamaicans can experience wealth if they engage in personal farming.
“We will make sure to inject money, strength and support into our farmers. Anyone can be a farmer, and every Jamaican boy and girl should be able to say they’ve planted something they can harvest,” Charles said. “There are no poor people in Jamaica because if you live in Jamaica you can go next door or open your own door and pick a mango or pick a breadfruit. You cannot be poor if you are in Jamaica and you are a farmer.