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Agri minister looks to students for climate change solutions

Published:Sunday | May 12, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw (second left) views an exhibit at the recently held St Mary Agri Expo.

(JIS): Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw has charged students to come up with solutions to address the impact of climate change on the sector.

“As farmers in training, you have felt the impact of climate change that has resulted in the number of pests and diseases. We are looking to you, younger farmers, to lead the way in developing and implementing solutions to these threats,” he said.

Shaw was delivering the main address at an Open Day event at the Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon on May 10.

He told the young people that they have a key role to play in the continued development of the sector, which is a key driver of economic growth.

“Our vision is to have a vibrant sector involving young, creative minds like all of you. We need young men and women, who are technologically savvy and ready to become successful entrepreneurs,” he noted.       

“You will need to utilise your hands to create and nurture small businesses to create employment and income generation. This sector presents multiple business opportunities that can be exploited by us in the provision of inputs for production, technology, and value-added and support services,” he added.

Ebony Park Academy, which occupies some 500 acres of land, is the leading HEART Trust/NTA institute for training and certification in agriculture.

Courses offered include hospitality, agro-processing, agriculture, commercial food preparation, butchery, tractor operations, landscaping, horticulture, among others.

Shaw commended the institution for embracing the mantra of ‘eat what you grow, grow what you eat’ through its primary production and agro-processing operations.

“I am pleased to note that here at Ebony Park, you have not only been engaged in primary production, but have, for many years, moved into the value chain with the processing of an array of products including jams, jellies and sauces under the brand ‘Ebony Pride’,” he noted.

Director/ Principal, Ebony Park HEART Academy, Collie Clarke, in encouraging more young people to pursue agriculture, said that a farmer with an acre of land, who utilises modern techniques, could earn far more than many degree holders in a year.  

He said that one acre of MD2 variety of pineapples could, in nine months, yield earnings of $2 million, which is the average annual salary of a university graduate with a first degree.