Friday, January 12, 2018

Farmer Uses Agriculture To Empower Youth

At age 43, most persons have begun planning their retirement in earnest but for Dale Muir, this was the age he forged a new career path as a farmer on the Rocksprings Farm in Rockfort, St Andrew.

RUBiS Energy Jamaica Human Resource Manager Donovan Dobson (right) is instructed by farmer Dale Muir on how to allocate grain food to goats and sheep on Muir’s farm in Rockfort, St Andrew. Following a lease signed for Muir and his partner to utilize land owned by RUBiS, the rearing of sheep and goats is a part of expansion currently taking part at the farm. 
Shortly after his return to Jamaica after living abroad for over a decade, Muir started exploring his options with the intention to do something he loved while making a living.

“I used to do pig rearing for years before I left Jamaica, on a very small scale but I found a love for the earth on my return and I started trial and error with several crops,” the 44-year-old revealed.

After partnering with a community member, Ricardo Wellington, and deciding on the expansion of their small farm, the men approached RUBiS Energy Jamaica in 2015 to reach an agreement on using land owned by the company.

“After our agreement with RUBiS, I linked up with some farmers who told me, you’re doing this the wrong way, do it this way and that’s how we are able to have this many crops,” explained Muir.

The amateur farmer since the expansion of the area in which he farms now cultivates coconut, banana, plantain, lime, pepper, otaheite apple and avocado that are sold to supermarkets, restaurants, and home-makers in the community.

The environmentally conscious farmer is also keen on the agricultural practices on the farm he operates not being harmful to the environment.

“We have a bio-digester which ensures nothing goes to waste because unlike some other farmers, we are keen to protect earth instead of adding to what is causing all the flood and hotter climate that came with climate change,” he noted.

Farmer Dale Muir allocates feed under the watchful eyes of the goats and sheep on the Rocksprings Farm which he operates in Rockfort, St Andrew with a partner on Monday, December 4. The expansion of his farm was facilitated by a lease signed for Muir and his partner to utilize land owned by RUBiS, the rearing of sheep and goats is a part of expansion currently taking part at the farm.
His passion is not limited to his agricultural pursuits, as the empowerment of youth through employment in his community that is often rocked by crime is also important to him.

“Some of the youths that were involved in crime, we teach them animal husbandry and how to cultivate the cash crops, we also teach them how to cut up pork to get ribs,” added Muir.

“Rocksprings Farm” currently employs eight permanent staff from the community. Although he faces challenges with engaging youth in his community to stay gainfully employed at his farm, Muir is not deterred.

“What I try to do with the youths is tell them to look what I did and create their own employment for themselves even if they leave the farm but I try to emphasize the importance of them being self-sufficient,” he explained.

With significant expansion having happened under his watch, Muir is still hungry for more success for his farm.

“The niche we are looking to enter is the goat and sheep because persons know a lot of hormones and unhealthy practices go into growing the imported mutton so persons prefer the local mutton so that’s where we are looking next,” Muir disclosed. 

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