Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, says that agriculture remains a viable industry with the capacity for long- term sustainability. He was speaking on Thursday, May 30, at the opening ceremony of the Spring Gardens All-age School’s one-day agricultural exhibition at the institution’s campus in Bushy Park, St. Catherine.
Stating that the sector is “all-encompassing”, he said it entails more than the use of basic tools such as a fork, hoe and machete to till the soil for cultivation. “It is not so. Agriculture is high science... and we must begin to understand that agriculture is a business. There was a time when it was said that anyone who is not bright should go into agriculture. Not so. Agriculture is not only about tilling the soil. The sector needs highly trained professionals such as surveyors, agronomists, botanists, veterinarians; and we even want people with business knowledge. There is a place there for almost everyone, provided you have the aptitude and you get yourselves qualified to do the job,” he stated.
The Minister said the involvement of young people in the sector, particularly students at the primary and all-age levels, gives him optimism about the sector’s future. He noted that commendable pursuits, such as the Spring Gardens project, will ensure a sustainable future for agriculture. What we are experiencing here, today, is an indication that you can’t be too young to be involved. As I look at these little ones…I…see the potential… what they are capable of doing. I have always said that this is one industry that cannot die, because you have to eat to live; and therefore, food has to be produced. So we have to try and produce as much of it as we can for ourselves. What you are demonstrating here today is that agriculture has a sound future,” the Minister contended.
The Spring Gardens All-age School project entails the cultivation of a number crops as well as chicken rearing. The initiative, which was recently boosted by a $300,000 grant from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), supports the school’s nutrition programme, and serves as a catalyst to enhance the school’s literacy and numeracy programme for over 300 students.
In encouraging the youngsters to remain focused on their undertaking, Mr. Clarke advised them that “right here in your little plot, you can use this to educate yourselves as to what you can do in a bigger way.”