Young Farmers Encouraged To Join Youth In Agriculture Programme

Young Farmers Encouraged To Join Youth In Agriculture Programme

The Agro-Investment Corporation (Agro-Invest) is encouraging young farmers, aged 18 to 35, to join the Youth in Agriculture Programme.

The initiative, which was established in 2017, aims to foster the development of youth working in the agriculture sector by providing them with resources and expertise.

Marketing and Communications Manager at Agro-Invest, Alecia Brown-Forbes, says the programme is a partnership involving the entity, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica 4-H Clubs, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

She advised that under the programme, “a certain amount of land was set aside, so participants would be able to lease”.

“They would be able to get certain benefits, including technical support, business services, business counselling, cattle service, and land preparation assistance,” she outlined.

The programme is supported by the recently developed Youth in Agriculture Policy, under which Agriculture Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, mandated Agro-Invest to reserve at least 20 per cent of available arable lands for leasing.

“We started to increase the land banks that we have, to engage more youth in agriculture. So, since the beginning of August, we have started to heavily promote the programme and we have established land at our Ebony Park and Spring Plain locations in Clarendon as well as Plantain Garden River in St. Thomas,” Mrs. Brown-Forbes explained, noting that “these are the agro-parks”.

Agro-Invest also has agro-economic zones in Holland Estates, St. Elizabeth, and Production Zones in New Pen and Non-Such in St. Mary, as well as Lowleyton and Lennox in Portland.

Production and Economic Zones, though not irrigated, have access to water and are partially owned by government. Agro-Parks are irrigated with water provided by the National Water Commission (NWC).

“We have land in these locations to engage youth and, so far, we have a number of persons who have expressed interest in applying. To apply, youth should have formal training in agriculture or basic knowledge of agriculture and agricultural practices as well as have their finances and an idea of a market where they will send their produce,” Mrs. Brown-Forbes outlined.

She further advised that the Corporation will take care of the remainder of the engagements in the process.

“We will help them to find both local and overseas markets or try to see how best we can get grant funding for them, if it is that they require more funding for expansion of their business. Currently, we have 50 youth who are part of the programme, and we have 250 acres designated to the programme, to date,” Mrs. Brown-Forbes informed.

She further pointed out that with several interested persons engaging Agro-Invest on social media and through the entity’s website, ‘we have started the process of receiving and reviewing applications to determine who will be most suitable to put on the land that we have”.

Both the land lease application form and the business proposal summary are the requisite documents to facilitate the leasing of land under the programme.

To access these documents and for further details on the Youth in Agriculture Programme, persons can visit the website at www.agroinvest.gov.jm, or call 876-923-0086 or 876-764-8365.

WRITTEN BY: TWILA WHEELAN
SOURCE: JIS news

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