October 2, 2023

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Business is my step

Jamaican girl ditches office environment career in finance for farm

4 min read

(Jamaica Gleaner) 20-nine-12 months-outdated Citerina Atkins did not dream that she would become a farmer.

The deCarteret College alumna, who hails from New Hall in Manchester, experienced her sights established on a occupation in finance.

Just after graduating from The College of the West Indies, Mona, with a diploma in banking and finance, she did a a single-12 months stint functioning at an insurance policy agency.

Not comfy with the 9-to-five office setting, she commenced to appear for a way out.

A single Sunday, her cousin, Roike Campbell, who had lately quit his occupation in information and facts engineering to concentration on farming, showed her the social media internet pages of Abbey Gardens Farm, managed by Youthful Champion Farmer and Nutramix Youth in Agriculture Ambassador Diandra Rowe, and she was intrigued.

On that farm, veggies are grown using hydroponics, bag lifestyle, ebb and move, as nicely as the nutrient film system.

“After seeing farming in that light-weight, it determined me and motivated me to go into the sector for myself,” Atkins told The Gleaner.

She soon noticed the prospective of agriculture to be an attractive, economically viable job selection, and in July 2018, she created the changeover to do whole-time farming of sweet potatoes with her cousin.

Now the co-founder of Gerty’s Agro-Deliver – named in honour of their late grandmother who was a farmer – and just around two decades since she designed that daring go, Atkins was awarded the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in Agriculture and Agro-Processing.

“I’ve been performing this for my fulfilment and not to be recognised. I’m really honoured,” she told The Gleaner.

Campbell, who released Atkins to farming, reported that his cousin is perfectly deserving of the accolade.

“To see her as a youthful female in farming states a ton,” he explained. “We have been progressing effectively. We do the job as a workforce to get almost everything attained.”

The young farmer experienced no official training in agriculture but due to the fact she commenced, Atkins has been engaged in the 4-H Club’s Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP) and is now enrolled in the YWOP/US Embassy’s R.E.A.P Agri-Tech Entrepreneurship Programme.

“It’s a programme that trains us to recognise farming as a business. We do monetary preparing [and] advertising. We also do farm administration and things alongside that line so we can utilize that to the farming techniques,” she explained.

Atkins observed it relatively effortless to find a market place for the sweet potatoes right after her 1st harvest with support from the Rural Agricultural Improvement Authority (RADA).

“We’ll arrive if we need to spray or if we need to scout the industry for pests. We spray, utilize fertiliser and coordinate reaping things to do,” she claimed of how the farm is maintained, noting that she also relies upon on the early morning and evening dew for soil dampness.

“Being a farmer in standard, I am influenced by the local weather. We never have drinking water in the drought time and when it rains, we drop our crops. As a woman farmer, I assume it’s greater because I’m far more recognised and people gravitate to and give me information mainly because they are amazed to see a woman farming,” she defined.

Atkins lost sweet peppers and cabbage crops in the Oct rains, but designs to plant a new crop, along with yam, in shorter order.

Group associates have extended their charity to the two youthful farmers by letting them to farm on idle lands they had leased from the Governing administration.

They had been not long ago allotted a person and a 50 percent acres of land and have by now ready it and sowed sweet potato slips.

“We have access to about 20 acres of land, but we do not have crops on all of it. We are striving to set up a technique where we have great staggered generation, so we have a little something coming in every single month,” she uncovered.

Atkins explained that agriculture is a fantastic financial investment as globally, meals is constantly in demand from customers, and “Jamaican make is high quality produce”.

“If we can boost the export of these create and really create additional import-substituted merchandise, it will help to impact the trade deficit and to generally minimise the imports,” she reasoned.

The younger farmer harbours dreams of functioning on multiple degrees of the worth chain.

“I want to go into agro-processing and exporting for myself. I’m performing my investigation, I’m calling JAMPRO, and I’m doing work in direction of that,” she claimed.

She relishes the liberty that she is afforded as a farmer and entrepreneur. Because her entry into the sector, she has been centered on applying agriculture as a software of neighborhood development. The farming duo donates generate to the aged and early-childhood institutions as very well as employs local community associates and teach them on the worth of dealing with agriculture as a small business.

Her word of guidance to other youthful folks imagining of likely into agriculture: “Consult with RADA, consult with your agronomist and get professional guidance right before you undertaking into the area. Do your investigation and don’t enable dread hold you back from performing some thing you want to do.”

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