Agricultural assistant programme to be launched In March
An agricultural assistant programme, aimed at strengthening extension services provided to the farming sector, will be launched in March.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, said that the programme is aimed at addressing the shortage of extension officers.
“We do not have enough extension officers… to be out in the field with the farmers to provide them with the appropriate technology, to help guide them at the onset of diseases,” he noted.
“We have decided to embark on a new programme that will help us to [address] the extension officer shortage [and] help us to get more young people into farming,” he said.
He was speaking at the launch of the 65th staging of the Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show on Wednesday (January 22) at the Hague Showground in Trelawny.
The agricultural assistant programme will target young people aged 18 to 35 from farming communities across the island, who will be trained by extension officers to work with farmers in those communities.
“So you (farmers) will not have to wait on the extension officer to come around. You will have someone who is trained, who lives and works in that community to give you that expert advice,” Mr Green noted.
He said that the programme will start with 90 trainees, and they will work with the extension officers in the field for one year, after which they will be certified.
“We expect that after that [year of training], a number of them will continue in the service, but will also go on to become farmers,” he noted.
Extension officers operate as facilitators and communicators, helping farmers in their decision-making and ensuring that appropriate knowledge is put to use to obtain the best results.
The Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show, which will showcase the best of agricultural production in Trelawny, will be held on February 26 under the theme ‘Agricultural Resilience and Adaptation to climate change’.
The annual show is organised by the Trelawny Association of Branch Societies (TABS).