In the middle of the Appleton Sugar Cane Estate, 25-year-old Althea Dunkley supports her family of seven by cultivating sweet corn, sorrel, scotch bonnet pepper, and rearing cows and chickens in Raheen, St Elizabeth.
Raised by farmers, Althea’s father taught his children the importance of Agriculture, and how to be financially successful in farming. At the age of 7, Althea was given a pig to raise with the intention to profit from. With the support of both her parents, Althea, and her siblings each learnt to be young entrepreneurs in Agriculture; raising and selling different livestock their father gave them. During her childhood, Althea learnt how to develop and execute a business plan for the practices and principles her father taught her.
While attending the Black River High School, peer pressure caused young Althea to stray from Agriculture, focusing on materials things, like most children her age. With a passion for the Arts, her experience in Agriculture prepared her for the next step in her life, which at the time was a distant dream. After completing her secondary studies, Althea began exploring the possibilities of pursuing a business in Agriculture.
In 2017, Althea enrolled in the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP), an entrepreneurial training programme organized by the Jamaica 4H Clubs, in partnership with the HEART Trust/NTA. During the program, she got the opportunity to participate in various shows like the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, getting the knowledge she needed to be a successful farmer. Althea received a grant from the program to start a business venture in Agriculture after completing the program.
In 2018, Althea purchased 4000 scotch bonnet pepper seedlings and started planting with the assistance of her mother and stepfather. Hand-picking thousands of scotch bonnet peppers and delivering to higglers in the community markets, she was inspired to expand her business to include sweet corn and sorrel.
Althea stepped up and took over her mother’s layer birds production, adding cows and broiler birds with her expanding crop production.
Two years later, Althea has positioned herself as one of the main providers of her family of seven, using her farm, hidden in the sugar cane of the Appleton Estate to financially support her family and herself. She intends to continue expanding her business, and encourage other young people in her community to pursue a meaningful career in Agriculture.