In an economic climate where many of Jamaica's natural resources are being sold to the highest bidder, the nation is struggling to be self sufficient. Agriculture in Jamaica is not as strong as it once was, however, a new programme, 'Farmville Jamaica Live' is changing the way people look at the once flourishing industry. Spokesperson Tracy-Ann Lewis gave IrieZine some insight into this up-and-coming organization.
Capitalizing on the widespread success of the game, Lewis encourages the Jamaican public to get 'hands on'. In the face of the Ministry of Agriculture's "Eat Jamaican" campaign, Farmville Jamaica Live attempts to move the online networking generation away from their screens and toward active change. As Tracy Ann puts it "In this generation there is a stigma attached to farming and we are working to have it remove permanently."
As youcan probably guess the idea for the programme came from the cult following of the popular Facebook game. As the name alludes, participants in the project can experience the real life incarnation of the online game, planting, reaping, and selling traditional Jamaican crops on selected plots of land. The 10 ft by 10ft plots are planted with traditional crops including, tomato, callaloo, okra ,cucumber, sweet pepper, sorrel, melon, and ginger to name a few.
Lewis describes the setting, "On Sunday at Farm Fest there are several activities such as motor sports, treasure hunts, horseback riding, bicycle races, farm tours, board games and also a farmer's market when there is a harvest."
By making farming into a social event, Tracy-Ann has managed to garner attention with plots leased by entertainers such as Assassin and DMajor. The project is also government endorsed as heads of state including: Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, Minister of Labour- the Hon. Pearnel Charles, Minister of Transport- Mike Henry, and Minister of Health- the Hon. Rudyard Spencer also signed up to plant reap and sell their crops.
"There has also been an overwhelming corporate response" says Tracy, Farmville Jamaica Live's corporate partners include: Digicel, Mayberry, KLAS, BESS FM, Caribbean Broilers, Rumfire, Rumbar, Real Vibes, Copa Airlines, Sagicor, COK.
The program which started on Sunday July 18th, 2010 at Thetford Great House and Country Club in Bushy Park St. Catherine, helps facilitate farmers to sell their produce at various markets in the area, including a farmers market at the Great House itself.
Tracy Ann explains "The long-term goal is far more advanced than words can describe, where nation building, and self-sufficiency is concerned." Farmers are given the opportunity to come out each Sunday and check on their crops while enjoying the week to week activities.
The initiative also helps farmers to process excess crops, "Whenever there is an excess harvest where farmers can barter and sell produce, we help that along or we find the market for excess produce, " said Lewis.
And the benefits of Farmville? "Stress relief-spending times in the outdoors, savings on groceries, self gratification, and of course, uplifiting Jamaica!" exclaims the proud organizer whose goals are, "to have over 2,000 members locally and globally, along with a fully established Agro-Tourism product." Lewis sums it all up; saying, "The ultimate goal is to get the new generation involved in farming and have an appreciation for it. Eat what you grow and grow what you eat." add