Supported by US AID through its workforce development programme, Advance and implemented by fhi360, the college now boasts an agro processing learning laboratory for its Associate Degree in Agro-processing and Business Management students. The lab was officially opened in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
The agro processing lab was welcomed by Minister of Education Youth and Information, Faval Williams as well as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green and the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica.
Minister Williams said when the college was opened as a polytechnic in 2018, it was with the expressed intention of broadening its range of courses and the launch of the agro processing lab was “an important step in fulfilling that mandate.”
Describing the training to be offered as a wonderful programme, Minister Green hailed the opening of the lab at KPC as great news and said the ministry of agriculture stood to benefit directly with a lot of resources going to training in agri-business. He also had high praise for the training staff at the college.
Outlining that agro-processing was not just book related knowledge but required hands-on training, Scientist and Researcher Cliff Riley said “so having persons going through the different steps and processes in procuring, in managing and handling produce is really critical to the success of any industry and when you’re looking at the productive sector, having such a facility, especially for training purposes, it’s really priceless.”
Advance Country Programme Director, Ruth Chisholm said the lab would be enhancing the learning experience by matching the students’ theoretical learning with practice and better prepare them for the world of work.
Principal Mrs. Pauleen Reid said the Knockalva Polytechnic College was advancing its thrust to offer very diverse programmes “because we started out with the degree in agro processing and business management and given the dynamism exhibited here at K.P.C. as we were engaged in this activity, we recognized that there were openings for other things to be introduced.”
She noted that the lab offered the opportunity for research, “so what will happen is that the students will now be able to do a lot of researching and testing of the products with which they have to work.” There are currently some 60 students in KPC agro processing programme which includes a group now in their final year and the others just starting “and they come from all over Jamaica,” she said.
With KPC now moving to initiate a partnership with Western Hospitality College, there is a definite plan to introduce agro-tourism and expand our programme offerings to the wider society, disclosed Mrs. Reid. She pointed out that the setting of KPC on 216 acres of land lends itself to the opportunity “for us to have a small banquet hall so that we can cater to tourists and passersby commuting between the City of Montego Bay and the town of Savanna-la Mar, the two fastest growing urban centres in the western region.”
The college is located in Ramble which has a basic rest stop and Mrs. Reid said “we are thinking that if we are able to offer a tourism product then they will be able to stop by to see what we have and we’d be able to offer them our own products.”
In pursuit of maximizing the vast property on which the college sits, Mrs. Reid said the ultimate goal was to “Move from farm to factory to distribution then we can think about exportation of products. I am just so anxious for the day when you walk into establishments and see our products on the shelves, and that will be soon.”
- Countries: Jamaica
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