Jamaican women farmers on the rise

Some of the growing number of female farmers in Jamaica.

More women are getting involved in agriculture than at any other time in the nation’s history, local officials and stakeholders say.

They note that whereas the sector used to be more focus on physical labour, technology has leveled the playing field where women now see agriculture as “big business”.

Sharing that view is Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw, who said he is very encouraged to see the growing number of women who have been turning to agriculture as a means of making a living.

Shaw added that his ministry will continue to do all that it can to encourage even more women, noting that “the opportunities in agriculture have never been better”.

He said: “We have a lot of hotels coming on stream and of course the visitors will have to be fed. Our women are very smart and can recognize an opportunity when they see one. Agriculture for them offers a wide range of life-changing opportunities, both in the local and international markets and is a powerful reason why you are seeing so many of them flocking to the sector.”

Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw

Parish Agricultural Manager for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in St Ann, Jasmine Hyde said she is fully in support of the minister’s comments, adding that “we are witnessing a transformation right before our eyes… something of a renaissance”.

“Agriculture is no longer seen as dirty work but as a sector where persons can make a good living,” Hyde explained. “Women are now seeing the benefits and are getting more involved. They see it as an occupation…a very attractive profession…and where they can make inroads into the vital tourism sector.”

Hyde said RADA is also doing its part to assist women farmers, pointing to the agency’s Irish potato and onions programme as an incentive to get more persons into the sector.

“We find that a lot of females have been taking up our offer of assistance,” she added. “Women are also taking full advantage of the available technologies: Hydroponic farming; greenhouse farming and so on. They also have the necessary equipment at their disposal where they are now capable of making production and productivity much better than before.”