Farm Queen Ellington wants more youth to embrace agriculture
Twenty-two-year-old Sutanya Ellington, who was on Monday crowned National Farm Queen at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, is aiming to get more women and youth involved in agriculture.
Acknowledging that she was heartened to see more women turning to the once “male-dominated” sector, the Comfort, Manchester, resident is partnering with other parish queens to develop strategies to make a deeper push.
“I feel so elated, excited, and proud. Growing up, agriculture was a male-dominated sector. Persons usually leave the farming to males, but seeing how agriculture has blossomed over the years, and the fact that women can now be a part of agriculture and are appreciated at that, it really makes me happy, and I’m truly proud of all the women in agriculture,” Ellington said.
Her own love for farming began blossoming as she grew up watching and helping her parents tend to animals and various crops.
“My father always loved agriculture. He always had animals at home, so I developed a love for it from an early stage, and we had a variety of fruit trees, so all of that geared me towards agriculture and developing a passion for it,” she reflected.
Describing the Farm Queen competition as “a beautiful experience”, Ellington said that she entered the contest as a way of giving back to agriculture “and to have a more effective voice to widen the scope of my mission and vision for agriculture”.
“I made lifelong friends. We became family, and I really dedicate all of my achievement and my crown to those girls who are so intelligent and had blooming ideas, and most of the time we combined ideas in what we were doing,” she revealed.
Ellington, who rears animals and grows vegetables and ground produce on several farms, told The Gleaner that amid the highs, there have been some lows, including the scourge of farm theft, which she labelled the great threat to the sector.
“Many times I speak with people who are very much afraid of going into the agricultural sector because of praedial larceny,” Ellington told The Gleaner.
With the sector losing up to $6 billion to praedial larceny annually, the young farmer believes that harsher penalties could be deter predators.
“The fines that are currently in place are relatively weak, but if we could improve that and increase security, whether it be putting dogs or fencing, incorporating technology and harsher punishment ... I believe if we integrate all of those, then we could reduce praedial larceny in Jamaica,” she said.
Ellington also plans to using her influence to spotlight the issue of food security.
She is also encouraging more Jamaicans to tap into the idea of containerised farming, where land space is an issue.
“I want to encourage every person to start farming, start providing food, even if it is planting some tomatoes in your backyard,” she appealed.
Ellington, who attended the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, is currently an agricultural science teacher at the Manchester-based Bellefield High School – her alma mater.
Imparting agricultural knowledge to students at her alma mater is one of her proudest achievements, she said.