Growth & Jobs | MoBay Chamber of Commerce undertaking business initiative for agricultural students
THE MONTEGO Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is spearheading an initiative through which agriculture students are being mentored on the business aspect of the sector and how this can be linked with tourism.
Project Chair Nadine Spence said the Chamber’s Workforce Development Committee conceptualised the initiative to highlight the “convenient marriage” between agriculture and tourism, and the many opportunities that are available through this linkage.
She was speaking following a visit to the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay by students of Knockalva Polytechnic College in Hanover, on January 31, who were given a tour of the resort’s growing agricultural facility.
Spence said the session was aimed at providing students engaged in agricultural studies with first-hand experience of the process of linking farming with tourism.
“The chamber also deems it necessary to instil entrepreneurship principles with regards to our youth and the future demands in business, as it relates to agriculture,” she added.
“A lot of times, they are in school [and] they only get to see the theory. We also want to give them the content so they can connect the dots. So, we thought this was a good initiative to get them out, and Half Moon was quick to say ‘yes’,” she said.
Spence, who is also a director of the chamber, said the students had earlier visited the facility at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority in St James, where they were sensitised on the increasing importance of agriculture and how it can be a viable and lucrative profession.
For his part, Chamber President Oral Heaven, said forging the link is very important, as far too many Jamaicans tend not to see the “bigger picture”.
“We have doctors, lawyers, and teachers … but somebody has to feed them. We must ensure that persons … especially our young people … see the importance of farming,” he pointed out.
“We also must teach them the entrepreneurial side … the business aspect of things, and this is where the chamber comes in. Our young people now understand how viable this is and that, with the huge demand in the tourism sector for locally produced goods, there are now, indeed, opportunities to do well,” Heaven added.
Assistant landscaping manager at Half Moon, Navardo Mighten, said the hotel anticipates a major cost-cutting benefit by farming its own produce, pointing out that they hope to escalate production in the coming years.
He said guests at the property are thrilled at the prospect of eating freshly grown produce, adding that the tourism industry is benefiting as well.
“There was a time when persons used to look down on farming and farmers, as if agriculture wasn’t something to be taken seriously. Those days are over, as farming is now big business. The hotels … and I can speak for Half Moon … are seeing the wisdom of supporting the sector fully, which makes it a win-win for all,” he added.