Addressing a recent agriculture stakeholders meeting in Maroon Town, St. James, Mr. Kellier noted that, currently, the farmer is often depicted as “an old man with a machete…in a big straw hat.”
This misconception, he said, is often a deterrent to increasing youth involvement in the sector.
“That was the farmer of (years past). The farmer, today, is very sophisticated (and)…technology savvy. The farmer today is thinking big…about producing in bulk to supply hotels (and) supermarkets,” he reasoned.
Mr. Kellier emphasised the importance of this focus by farmers, pointing out that “we are in the 21st century, and we have to do things differently.”
“The consumers have to be satisfied that the produce is of the highest quality and that good agricultural practices are being followed,” he added.
To this end, the Minister urged farmers to continuously keep abreast of global developments in agriculture and other areas relevant to the sector, particular in relation to technological applications, in order to further enhance their outputs.
Mr. Kellier also hailed the farmers resilience, noting that they have been able to bounce back from the impact of weather and crop disease-related adversities to play their part to “keep the country going.”
“The resilience of the Jamaican farmer cannot be overstated. Every time (he falls, he) gets right back up. Farmers have a great role to play (in national development), and we (all) have to play it as well,” he added, while pledging to provide “whatever support I can give”, to advance their engagements.