Tue | May 23, 2017

4-H Clubs making big strides

Published:Saturday | July 18, 2015 | 7:47 AMNorman Grant

THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs is celebrating its 75th anniversary during the 2015-2016 financial year. The organisation has planned and is implementing a series of events to commemorate this during the year.
The membership of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs now stands at just over 94,000 in 1,110 clubs. These clubs are predominantly formed in schools, with a minority membership in community and church clubs.
Currently, we have a total of 456 school gardens and we are aiming that over the next three years, we will have a school garden in every one of the 1,200 public schools.
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs is currently implementing the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP). This is a three-year programme to train 3,000 youths in practical entrepreneurial training. The 4-H  partners in this venture include  the National Youth Service, which has committed funding of $45 million and has already distributed the first tranche of $15 million; the Development Bank of Jamaica - $7 million; and HEART/NTA committed to providing the training and certification.
This new area of entrepreneurship will now be an area of core training to the 4-H programme, in addition to agriculture, agro-processing, home economics, leadership and the environment.
On July 14, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST). Elements of this MOU include:
• Design and implementation of projects using an applied science and technology approach.
• Provision of lands and greenhouse space for the production of nutraceutical plants.
• Partnership with UWI to establish a plant propagation and tissue culture lab at the 4-H’s Salisbury Plain in St Andrew.
• Analysis of production and projects that will inform the development and improvement of policies.
Coming out of this MOU, we will introduce the growing of nutraceutical plants in our training and development centres across the 13 parishes using both greenhouse and open field agriculture methodologies. We will be also including this in the school garden programme in our schools as well and will expand it through our National Youth In Agriculture Programme.
This particular MOU between the Jamaica 4-H and the National Commission on Science and Technology is a game-changer as it will expose Jamaican youth to this growing global nutraceutical industry with an estimated value of US$150 billion.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller must be commended for her vision and commitment.
Let’s do it for the youth and for Jamaica.
NORMAN GRANT
Board Chairman
Jamaica 4-H Clubs