Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr (centre) looks at seedlings during a tour of farms in Clarendon on February 10. Also observing is minister of state in the Ministry of National Security Zavia Mayne.

Farmers who have taken on a mentorship role in training many of their younger counterparts in the art of farming and best practices are being hailed by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr.

“It is something we have been seeing more and more of and I think is really exemplary… that level of mentorship. It has been going on for some time and it’s nice to see farmers being open to transferring knowledge to the young start-ups.

“That’s something which we really must applaud. I commend all the farmers who have been doing something that they really didn’t have to do,” Charles Jr added.

The minister was speaking following a tour of several farming communities in Clarendon on February 9, during which he credited farmers for the record output in domestic crop production in 2022.

“We have, for the first time ever last year, over 800,000 tonnes in productivity, and the reason is because our farmers have been working smart, not just working hard,” he pointed out.

“I mean, many of them have been successful, but for them, a part of their success is not just high production. It is about seeing other persons, helping them by transferring knowledge of what to do, but most importantly, what not to do so they don’t have to repeat any mistakes.

“And I really want to commend them and say to all farmers, ‘Find somebody who knows how to do it and be mentored so that you avoid the mistakes and you train yourself in the right practices,’ ” he urged.

The minister, in the meantime, said that the Government, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is preparing farmers to capitalise on opportunities in the growing tourism sector.

“As our tourism sector expands, the more we will see the opportunities. Part of the plan for us at the ministry, part of the plan for us at RADA is to see how we can train up as many persons as possible to have the best practices,” he noted.

“In doing this, we are certain to have more production, more productivity, where we can supply the expanding tourism sector. Our parish managers have programmes where our farmers can be properly trained. We should see a good crop of our farmers completing [some of] that training in the next five months,” he said.

He noted that the Agri-linkages Exchange (ALEX) programme provides a platform for farmers to identify markets in the tourism sector.

“The ALEX programme is another synergy between tourism and agriculture, where we try our best to create that connectivity between the small farmer and the tourism sector. So there’s a lot that we’re doing, a lot more to be done in 2023,” he pointed out.

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