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 Agriculture, Floyd Green said that the programme is aimed at addressing the shortage of extension officers.
“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.
“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.
He was speaking at the launch of the 65th staging of the Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show on 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. They will be trained by extension officers to work with farmers in those communities.
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.