Twenty-five-year-old Tanasha Tamasa is not your typical young Jamaican who is swooned by the perceived glamour and prestige associated with careers in academia, law or medicine.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, Tanasha’s choice as the ideal career is farming, and she is resolute in her belief that her decision to pursue this path was the correct one.
A native of Highgate, St. Mary, and a graduate of St. Mary Technical High School, Tanasha and her partner, Bazharn Gilbert, operate a five-acre farm in the neighbouring community of Chovey, where they cultivate cabbage; pak choi; sorrel; Scotch bonnet and sweet peppers; and rear livestock, primarily goats.
She proudly states that their cabbage cultivation yielded an initial 1,000 pounds earlier, and anticipates even greater out-turns from this crop for supply to their various clients.
Additionally, she says they have contractual arrangements to supply two of Jamaica’s popular wholesale/retail grocery franchises with produce, particularly sweet peppers, and anticipates increasing the number of establishments to which she sells.
Tanasha tells JIS News that they also supply produce to one school, St. Cyprian’s Preparatory, which is located in her home community, and hints at plans to expand the number of educational institutions.
She adds that transactions are also done with individuals within and outside St. Mary, noting that “we have persons coming in from (as far as) Kingston who buy in large proportions… so selling is not really a problem.
Tanasha says her decision to get involved in agriculture stemmed from her upbringing in a farming household, where both her parents cultivated a variety of crops and reared animals. She says that as she grew, so did her love for farming.
“As a child, I saw most persons going into teaching, becoming lawyers and doctors. But, as I got older, I realised that (farming was) the best thing for me to do. You work for yourself (which) is much easier than going out and working for others. I believe in being an entrepreneur, and I like being my own boss,” the young farmer says.
She points out that farming has been “very profitable” for her and her partner, and that this has resulted, to a great extent, from the measured approach that they have adopted to the activities.
“We plant in stages, so that we don’t have everything coming in at the same time. Also, if a lot of persons are planting (the same things), you know that the prices will be reduced. But, if you plant in good time when the price is right, then you will be in good stead,” she reasons.
Tanasha, who plans to expand into papaya production, believes that agriculture is a viable income generator that remains and will always be pivotal to driving higher levels of sustainable economic growth.
In this regard, she encourages young persons contemplating career decisions to consider farming.
“Farming is not hard. If you start small (then), the profit that you make after you sell your produce, whether it’s crops or livestock, is what you’re going to use to grow your business. When you farm, there is no way you can sit around not having funds, because cash (is) what persons work for,” she says.
Former Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, who visited the farm earlier this year, describes Tanasha’s pronouncements as “music to my ears”.
“She’s a clear manifestation of all the things that we have been promoting (within the industry) and she represents the sector very well. Having a 25-year-old working in this area, together with her husband in partnership and so committed to agriculture, is very encouraging for the sector (and) it is the way that Jamaica has to go,” he told JIS News.
The Minister argued that an increase in the number of persons engaging in farming will contribute to further reducing unemployment, particularly among youth in rural communities.
Mr. Samuda believes that Tanasha’s encouraging words will contribute to spurring greater youth interest in agriculture, thereby enabling them to “make a decent living and live a very good life for themselves”.
“This is the whole essence of what the Government is trying to achieve,” the Minister tells JIS News.