Sat | Sep 25, 2021

Entrepreneurs in Manchester to get training boost in agro-processing

Published:Friday | July 30, 2021 | 12:06 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Peter Thompson (seated, left)signs the contract for youth entrepreneurship training programme with Managing Director, Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative (CJSDI), Dami
Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Peter Thompson (seated, left)signs the contract for youth entrepreneurship training programme with Managing Director, Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative (CJSDI), Damion Young at the recent programme launch. Back row, from left are: RADA Parish Manager Winston Miller, Manchester Chamber of Commerce President Simone Spence-Johnson, Minister of Housing Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Pearnel Charles, Jr, and CJSDI Board member John Meeks.

OVER THE next three months, approximately 40 aspiring entrepreneurs in agro-processing, across the parish, will undergo a series of training that will allow them to secure $100,000 in seed grant, following the registration of their businesses.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Training Programme, that was recently launched, is being spearheaded by the Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative (CJSDI), in partnership with the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Companies Office of Jamaica, Home Grown Produce, HEART Trust/NSTA and Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

According to the managing director of CJSDI, Damion Young, the group will receive training in entrepreneurship, bookkeeping and finance management and marketing, particularly in food processing, and they will be guided on best practices to boost production, reduce imports and increase exports.

Following the training and presentation of business plans –which the JBDC will facilitate, Young said the HEART Trust will be offering a $100,000 grant to all successful participants as seeding funding for their registered businesses.

“If these ideas and business interests of our young people are nurtured properly and if they are guided with the know-how, they can become successful businesses … . At CJSDI, we believe that as a country, we should be seeking to produce ourselves out of poverty and growing our economy. If we can feed our people with more of what we produce in Jamaica and reduce our intake of imports, what a tremendous difference that would make,” said Young

With RADA and its nutrition department fully funding the theoretical and practical training in food processing, hygiene and best practices, the chief executive officer of the agency, Peter Thompson, highlighted the importance of innovation in agriculture and investment in human resources for sustainability.

“There is value-added agriculture which we need to move along the value chain. We want to ensure that is one of the first cohorts that we will be working with to inspire hope. The tourism sector is reopening and there is a high demand for local foods and we want our local farmers to fill that gap.”

He added: “Agriculture is alive; the days of the machete and the hoe are over. We have to use technology to get the type of production that we need. The same plot of land that you get 10,000 pounds of anything from, you can double that by improving technology and using best practices.

Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change and keynote speaker, Pearnel Charles Jr, who endorsed the initiative, said there can be no growth and development without thriving medium and small enterprises.

With several countries processing raw materials from Jamaica and then exporting those products back to the country, Charles added that only an increase in local production can build resilience for sustainable economic development.

Since its inception eight years ago, CJSDI has impacted hundreds of individuals, paying special attention to giving back to underserved youth, by implementing programmes to improve the social and economic well-being of central parishes.

According to Young, the entrepreneurship training programme is expected to continue into the next year to ensure other individuals will receive similar training opportunities.