'I have a genuine love for agriculture'
In marking its 70th anniversary, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) will be highlighting some of the success stories of its Youth In Agriculture Awards which was established in 1999. Starting today, the AgroGleaner will showcase some of these stories of awards which recognise persons between the ages of 17 and 34 who have been making outstanding contributions to local agriculture.
The awardees were adjudged by a panel comprising representatives from IICA, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Jamaica 4-H Clubs and the Jamaica Agricultural Society on innovation, contribution to employment, knowledge, potential for developing new markets and adherence to best practices.
Today, we highlight the ongoing efforts of Lyndell Gooden and Terrian Hanniford-Cole.
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
MUCH HAS happened since Lyndell Gooden of Water Wheel, Westmoreland, was adjudged the 2011 winner of the small to medium scale category. Operating a 45x15ft nursery irrigated by overhead water misters connected to a rainwater harvesting system, he was also recognised for the proactive approach to marketing of seedlings.
When AgroGleaner caught up with Gooden this week, we learnt that the nursery was no more, but was quickly assured that it has been dismantled to make way for the construction of two 3,000-square ft greenhouses, each 100x30 ft.
This is just a small part of what has happened for Gooden since winning the IICA Award as he explains: "It did tremendous things because it has opened a network, not financial reward but it has allowed me to be in this job. I have met a lot of prospective business partners who are interested in the same things, so it really has created a wide array of exposure for me."
Having completed an associate of science degree programme in agricultural technology at the Montego Bay Community College, he is now pursuing a bachelor's in environmental studies. Employed as a centre manager by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, he is responsible for the goat project at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' research station in St James. He is also in charge of a property in Westmoreland where two acres of ackee, an acre of coconut, half an acre of pineapple are planted, and there are also 40 hives of bees.
End of month due date
With the land being cleared for the greenhouses, it is projected that the operation should be up and running by month end. One greenhouse will be dedicated to seedlings, while the other will be used for crop production - sweet pepper, Scotch bonnet pepper, West Indian red pepper, as well as hybrid seedlings. In addition to providing seedlings for the crop production side of the business, the nursery will also operate as a commercial entity, providing seedlings to other customers.
So between his full-time job, tertiary-level studies and own business, Lyndell Gooden is fully immersed in agriculture and already living his dream. He told AgroGleaner: "I have a genuine love for agriculture and want to contribute significantly to the sector."