Hi-Pro gives farming boost to training centre
Randy Finnikin says that 23 years ago, God gave him a vision to build up the desolate areas surrounding what is today the Institute of Vocational and Professional Training (IVPT), the training arm of the St Catherine-based Spring Village Development Foundation.
“I had faith in what God told me,” he said, telling The Gleaner that he has since been able to construct well-needed training labs and other facilities and that the school has been doing exceptionally well.
IVPT is set to launch its School of Agriculture on Thursday, in which the lead partner is Jamaica Broilers (JB) Group.
To mark Labour Day yesterday, Hi-Pro, a brand under the JB Group, retrofitted the newly built $1.5-million poultry house, which has the ability to house 600 chickens. Volunteers installed watering and and feeding systems as Hi-Pro donated two 250-gallon tanks and 100 baby chicks – with another 500 to be delivered today – and 20 bags of feed.
Finnikin said the donation would contribute to the institution’s legacy project, benefiting not only the school by aiding in income-generation and reducing food costs at the canteen, but also having “positive spin-offs for people who are growing chicken in their backyards to come and look at what the school is doing”.
As a result, the school will help small farmers raise production and boost food security in their community and the wider country.
“To those looking on, they may see a chicken house, but to us over here, it is a chicken production and training lab,” said Finnikin, adding that students will be taught how to operate in modernised facilities in the agricultural sector.
With a long-standing interest in farming, electrical and agriculture student Welton Codner has experimented with cash crops such as callaloo, pumpkin, and okra.
Influenced by both his grandfathers, who were farmers in St Ann, where he spent the majority of his childhood, he declared, “Farming is the way to go.”
Codner said he would like to see more Jamaicans embrace farming with its many opportunities and connections to other sectors, including tourism.
“See agriculture as just a means to exist,” he said as he assisted in the Labour Day project by installing electrical wiring in the poultry house.
He was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the project as he was able to apply theory in the practical exercise.
Hi-Pro Marketing Officer Denise Johnson-Anderson said that her team was happy to contribute to the creation of the IVPT’s School of Agriculture, adding that the company will also donate educational materials such as textbooks on farming practices.
“This is something that has to do with our operations, our expertise, and so without a doubt, when Randy comes to us with this endeavour it’s something we’re gonna come on board with,” she said. “We want the school to do well, we want farmers to walk away knowing what the best practices in broiler management and so on are. We want to see profitable farming happening [and] low mortality on our farms.”