Sat | Oct 21, 2017

More women turning to farming

Published:Thursday | May 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Georgia Sterling, assistant sales manager in the agriculture division at T. Geddes Grant, interacts with a customer during the recent staging of Agro Fest at the Jamaica College grounds in St Andrew.

A growing number of women are among the many Jamaicans who are becoming more informed about and adept at farming, according to Georgia Sterling, assistant sales manager in the agriculture division at T. Geddes Grant (Distributors) Limited.

Sterling, who represents the company at most of the agricultural shows across the island, told The Gleaner that while still dominating traditional areas such as horticulture, more women were making informed choices and branching out into the cultivation of cash crops. With the success of their ventures into backyard gardening, a lot of these women soon begin to look at the prospects of going into farming as a viable business option either to supplement their income or as a retirement fallback plan.

One of the big differences with women is their insistence on asking questions, which is usually matched by a willingness to learn.

"Female farming, I think it has increased significantly," Sterling disclosed, an assessment based on the enquiries at all the farm shows across the island. "They enquire about the kinds of seeds that we have coming in. They ask about chemical usage, crop production, farming in general."

SEEING THE BENEFITS

She continued: "They understand that it is more than just going in the fields in your water boots, but (it) is a business because they have been seeing benefits, and so they want to expand their knowledge and apply what they know on a larger scale."

Fresh from attending the inaugural Hanover agricultural show hosted by the Jamaica Agricultural Society in Lucea on Monday, Sterling said the turnout was understandably low, but, again, the interest of patrons was revealing.

"The feedback I got was that persons are loving the idea of companies offering everything to facilitate whatever aspect of farming they want to get into, and they are insisting that we cater to their interests in terms of new crops that they are interested in planting."

Kale and celery are two vegetables in which women have been showing a growing interest.

"I don't know if it is because people are eating healthier, but kale is in high demand and they want us to bring in some for them. So that is something that we're looking into - kale and celery," Sterling disclosed. "More persons are coming to us and asking that we help them by bringing in new crop seeds in which they have an interest."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com