Kingston, 27 July 2012/ JIS/ ACP: Jamaica’s Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries and Education are collaborating to enhance the application of agricultural science in education curricula, including submitting a joint project proposal for ACP-EU funding that would boost training in agricultural technologies and certify graduates in agricultural engineering for subsequent employment in the sector.

Jamaican State Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Ian Hayles, in his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday 25 July, said initiatives will commence this year, when his Ministry moves to conclude arrangements to undertake transformation of the Sydney Pagon Agricultural School in St. Elizabeth, to form the core of a new School of Food and Agriculture.

Mr. Hayles said the Ministry would also re-double efforts to collaborate and facilitate closer linkages with the Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon; Knockalva Agricultural School in Hanover; College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland; and Northern Caribbean University (NCU), to ensure the relevance of their programmes to agriculture, and facilitate a “seamless transition” for students from the secondary institutions into the tertiary, and into the local agricultural sector.

He pointed out that, within the context of globalisation, economic challenges, competitive international markets and increasingly higher food safety requirements, “the employment of under-skilled workers must be addressed”.

“The growth and development of our agricultural sector must be science-based, (and) technically-based, and this can only be assured if we have suitably attuned agricultural educational institutions,” Mr. Hayles underscored.

The State Minister also advised that the University of Technology (UTech), in partnership with the Ministry, will submit a joint project, titled: “Revitalization of the Agricultural Sector and Enhancement of Food Security in Jamaica through collaborative Human Resource Development and Capacity Building in Agricultural and Biological Engineering”, under the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) Cooperation Programnme.

The State Minister explained that targeted results of the project include: upgrading of the Bodles Agricultural Research Station’s facilities for the delivery of training in agricultural technologies and techniques; certification of graduates in agricultural and biological engineering and their subsequent employment in relevant positions in the sector; and effective collaboration among academia, government, international partners and the private sector.

“The Ministry (of Agriculture and Fisheries) is fully supportive of the project, and we are expecting that the proposal will be favourably considered,” he stated.

-Douglas McIntosh, Jamaica Information Service