His Excellency, Governor General, the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall has called on young Jamaicans to engage in productive agriculture, in light of an aging farming population, and the need to be self-sufficient.
He was speaking at the Fifth Anniversary of the Jamaica Agricultural Society’s “Eat Jamaica Day” at the Denbigh Show grounds in Clarendon on Friday, November 28.
“What we need to do today, and what this programme is saying to farmers, especially to young people (is that) farming can and farming must become a livable, viable economic activity, because in the absence of young persons, farming, like so many activities, in Jamaica today, especially in rural Jamaica, will become an occupation of people of a certain age group,” he asserted.
Professor Hall further emphasized the fact that the agricultural sector, would, over time, diminish in its appeal to young people, and would continue to decline, unless a concerted effort was made to completely revolutionize the sector, making it a viable, sustainable, and attractive undertaking.
The Governor General noted that critical to attracting and retaining young, technologically poised and enthusiastic farmers, was the need to move away from outdated modes of operation, and embrace the best practices of farming, marketing, and advertising, as recognized through research, to create an environment conducive to fostering an economically viable sector.
“It seems to me that this presents another big challenge, because young persons are not likely to be attracted, to the farming methods that we had in the past, some of which exist today. How do we get the results of our research, how do we get the results of effective marketing, of advertising, how do we find the infrastructure that will enable our farmers to get their produce to market? How do we create, in short, that conducive environment? That to me must be part and parcel of this effort to bring young farmers to be sustainable in this endeavour,” he stressed.
Sir Kenneth further noted that the culture of subsistence farming could no longer be encouraged, as this new initiative to ‘Eat Jamaican’ necessitated providing, on a commercially viable scale, nutritious, wholesome foods for the discerning Jamaican palate.
“Jamaican consumers are intelligent, and given an opportunity, they will exercise their choices. What we have to do then is to persuade them that when they go to the supermarkets, what they are selecting would be the best, and it is Jamaican. .and that is the linkage.that will ensure that what we grow we will eat, but also that those of us who have to eat, will find it attractive and pleasurable, nutritious, and indeed a good thing to eat Jamaican,” Professor Hall stated.
At the function, several persons were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the field of agriculture.