Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Letter of the Day | Tangible investment needed in agriculture

Published:Monday | January 25, 2021 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

As a rural youth, I have seen the Government pledge support and plans to develop agriculture in Jamaica. That support has come mostly in the form of free feed, chicks, and extra fertiliser. To truly develop agriculture, we need to stop this unsustainable, short-sighted and clichéd means of support. The sector needs an investment of technological processes and a data-driven recruitment process to interest young people to invest in farming. Young people may not be interested in agriculture. However, I am sure young persons are interested in money; if we were to have statistics representing projections and profits for agriculture, it would create some interest. Around 15 to 20 years ago, young people were not interested in the stock market. With the information available today, even teenagers are talking about it and learning about investing in stocks.

We need to change how we see agriculture; it must be beyond the concept of the stereotypical ‘farmer Joe’ with his farm of a few acres. We are yet to see the roll-out of promoting smart irrigation systems to improve water usage. Crop sensors are another example; these inform potential farmers of how to maximise the fertiliser used. Implementation is a personal responsibility, but access to information and training should not be solely left to the individual, especially when this is a core sector in the recovery of Jamaica.

Data mining is the computing process of discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods at the intersection of artificial intelligence, machine learning statistics, and database systems. Precision agriculture’s main objective is to ensure profitability, efficiency, and sustainability using the big data gathered to guide both immediate and future decision-making.

More effort is needed to link skills with capital. Young persons have the capital to invest. Many young persons want to get into farming, but we are not going to buy land and embark on a journey we know nothing about. A means of intervention that benefits all parties is a pilot programme, where our most reliable farmers receive crowdfunded investment from our young persons. This enables farmers to have larger farms, producing food in large quantities, invest in technology, and hire agricultural experts.

It may be a complicated process, but it is used by big businesses when they sell shares publicly. I learned that from the stock market. I am not interested in stocks, but I am indeed interested in money.

ADREAN GENTLES