Boys in state care get farm supplies

August 20, 2019
Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gary Rowe (left), and chairman of the Jamaica Broilers Group, Robert Levy (right), lead a group of volunteers from Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, the We Transform Initiative, and students and Faculty members from Humber College, in Canada, to establish a vegetable garden at the St. Catherine based Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre for boys.

The Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre for boys, in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, has received a boost in its quest to provide the wards with modern agricultural training, as part of the rehabilitation process.

Under a partnership involving Hi-Pro Farm Supplies, the We Transform Initiative, and students and from the Humber College in Canada, the programme was recently expanded to provide enriched rehabilitation and education for boys 12 to 18 years old.

A vegetable garden has established at the centre, along with expansion of poultry rearing. Hi-Pro Farm Supplies has provided seedlings, 250 baby chicks and feed, medicine and chicken rearing booklets to improve the institution’s food sustainability programme, and a technical person to ensure that the initiative succeeds.

Superintendent Martin Dryden, head of the facility, said he is very elated with the practical experience in farming for the wards, and that "every boy has to be a part of the agricultural programme."

"We’ll be using the project as a teaching tool for the boys, because it’s a way of giving them something to do when they leave here. The technical assistance from Hi-Pro will help to drive this project, and to make sure it is successful," Superintendent Dryden said.

Thirty-three boys are housed at the residential facility, and Superintendent Dryden said programmes there include academic training, behaviour modification, recreational activities and vocational training.

"Every boy is exposed to all the academic core subjects, so we have teachers in place for that. Additionally, we have boys from the remedial level right up to the CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) level. Outside of that, we also have trade areas like woodwork, tailoring, food and nutrition, computer technology, auto mechanics … to ensure that when they leave here, they have a skill," he said.