Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Agri-smart students on the rise

Published:Friday | February 7, 2020 | 12:21 AM
Janeilla Barnes (left) and Rohanna Walters are looking forward to planting these sweet pepper and strawberry seedlings.
Crystal Johnson enjoys horticulture.

Crystal Johnson, a student of agricultural science and a member of her school’s 4-H Club, has started to chart a career path in agriculture.

The grade-11 student of Claude McKay High School has a vested interest in the field of agriculture and was a participant in the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Inaugural National Youth in Agriculture Symposium on Wednesday.

“The topic I love most in agriculture is horticulture, because it deals with the beautifying of the garden,” said the Clarendonian, who has also participated in the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show.

With her mother’s assistance, she purchases seedlings and nurtures them to maturity.

“I plant lots of flowers and give them to others. I also use flowers to make bouquets and give them to others on special occasions.”

Johnson characterised her mother as a jack of all trades and, though she will not exactly follow in her footsteps, she has definitely influenced her to become a teacher of agricultural science.

“To see where she’s coming from, it motivates me to work harder. She rears chicken, plants vegetables and sometimes she plants flowers. I help her to water, feed the chickens and the pigs,” the teen explained.

Janeilla Barnes and Rohanna Walters, of Balaclava Primary School, paraded on the grounds of Northern Caribbean University in Manchester with sweet pepper and strawberry plants bought by their 4-H Club teacher.

The St Elizabeth-located school has in place a sustainable agricultural programme and Barnes, the club’s president, said the new plants will join the others in their garden.

“We sell some of them and we give some to the canteen ladies to cook. It supplies goods for them so they don’t have to spend more money at the market and the food they are giving us is healthier with the vegetables,” Barnes said.

Though not a 4-H Club member, Walters is actively involved in the farming process at home.

“My grandfather is a farmer and he plants yam, pepper, callaloo, cabbage, tomato, sweet pepper and all those stuff. I help him with the gungo – I put them in the sun and pick them up when night is coming down,” she said, referring to the local peas which are used green or dried.

The symposium explored food security, new and emerging careers in the field and agricultural entrepreneurship.