Young men see promise in farming
ADRIAN Davis, one of the recent graduates of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Youth Engagement Project, has opted to go into pig farming with nine other trainees. He chose pigs, he said, because it appeared to be the project promising the best returns with the resources in hand.
Davis and his partners are among 30 young men in March Pen, St Catherine, who are now pursuing farming projects, having successfully completed a one-month training programme facilitated by the fund's Inner-City Basic Services Project, with the assistance of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
The entire programme, which included the provision of seedlings, tools and other supplies, was funded to the tune of $2.6 million by the World Bank.
Community Liaison Officer at JSIF, Damion Young says the goal of ICBSP's Youth Engagement Programme is to provide legitimate short-term employment to at-risk youth through the provision of skills development and income-generation activities.
"The good thing is once they were certified by RADA, we then equipped them with starter packages so that they could jump right into production with their own income-generating skills," he states.
The starter kits have a total value of $350,000. The effort also benefitted from $320,000 in tools and seeds provided by Food for the Poor, which has also provided the young men with 40 pairs of water boots.
Land for the use of the young men — approximately five acres — was leased from a member for the community by the March Pen Benevolent Society on young farmers' behalf.
The men have received certification in animal husbandry and cash crop production under the ICBSP's Public Safety component, whose goal is to enhance the safety and reducing poverty in 12 target communities.
The Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA) conducted the training and certification programme.
The graduates formed themselves into groups based on shared interests, with some choosing to go into pig farming while others opted to raise chickens.
JSIF plans to assign a seasoned agricultural professional to offer ongoing support and guidance to the group of new farmers with approaches already being made to one large agro-processor for technical assistance and purchases.
"We are tying down a market for them so they can actually make some active sales and find this thing useful," Young promises.
Twenty-two year old Orlando Dacres, one month after receiving 50 laying hens has eggs for anyone willing to buy. "I sell like a six, six in the community, but I have 12 trays I want leggo (I want to sell)."
"No, I have not tried the supermarket yet. My goal is to expand even into pig farming. My girlfriend is pregnant and there is my family. I have been through a lot. I want this to work for me."