Women make up around 32% of registered farmers in Jamaica. Additionally, they have made significant contributions in fields such as veterinary medicine, beekeeping, fisheries, and agribusiness. In his remarks at the recent awards event, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. predicted a rise in the number of women involved in agriculture over the next five years.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries remains dedicated to contributing to that increase as we continue to build an environment in which our women can thrive, excel and make a lasting impact. Part of our strategic objective within the Ministry is to ensure that at least 20 per cent of the beneficiaries of our programmes include women, youth and persons with disabilities,” Minister Charles Jr. said.
The ceremony took place at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston. Minister Charles Jr. also shared some of the initiatives that agencies within the Ministry have facilitated to promote inclusiveness in the agricultural space.
“The Rural Agricultural Development Authority [RADA] has sought to ensure that at least 30 per cent of women are selected as beneficiaries of initiatives such as the Production and Productivity Programme, Drought Mitigation, Farmer Field Schools, On-Farm Water Management, as well as other special projects implemented by the Authority,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Charles Jr. commended the efforts of the women, wishing them even greater success in their future endeavours. The Minister also spoke about other efforts to secure the participation of women within the sector. This includes the work of the Jamaica Dairy Development Board in providing support to livestock farmers, as well as the focus of the Agro-Investment Corporation on increasing access to agricultural lands.
Awardees included Bevene Martin Dickenson, Most Outstanding Agricultural Extension Leader; Olive Downer Walsh, Most Outstanding Agricultural Inputs Distributor, and Jannett Pullen, Most Outstanding Farmers’ Advocate.
The Most Outstanding Farm Store Operator award went to Doreen Brown-Lawson while the Most Outstanding Young Farmer and Apiculturalist Award went to Kateisha Allen. Donna McPherson and Merlyn McAnuff took home awards for Most Outstanding Woman Farmer, Dr Gabrielle Young for Most Outstanding Veterinarian, and Dr Tanika O’Connor-Dennie for Most Outstanding Livestock Nutritionist.