Shaw lauds new UTech graduate programme
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw has lauded the new Master of Science in Integrated Rural Development launched by the University of Technology, Jamaica as “a great initiative whose time has come”. The minister was delivering the keynote address at the programme’s launch ceremony at the university’s Papine campus on Thursday.
Shaw said that students of the MSc in integrated rural development have the opportunity to start a revolution to inspire rural development in Jamaica. “Rural development must begin with human development by taking a serious and critical look at the pulse points of opportunities and how we are going to exploit them,” the minister said. Pointing to the many acres of arable, idle lands which exist in our rural communities, Shaw emphasised that “we cannot create wealth until we create wealth in the minds of our people”.
He told the gathering that the new UTech, Jamaica graduate programme accords well with the Government’s transformation and development plans in rural integrated development. He elaborated on plans for the rationalisation of idle, former sugar lands which he reported is currently being leased to applicants for production of alternative crops such as Sea Island cotton and castor beans.
The minister also spoke of the vast potential in the agro-processing industry and the largely untapped seeds of benefit to be gained from new markets in the hotel industry, in CARICOM member states, the Jamaican diaspora in Canada, USA and England, as well as in a national school-feeding programme which utilises locally grown and produced foods.
President of the University of Technology, Jamaica, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, in remarks delivered by Dr Paul Ivey, AVP, Graduate Studies, Entrepreneurship and Research, noted that “the master’s programme has been developed in direct response to national development goals of solving rural development problems and is aimed at boosting the country’s capacity to benefit from the vast potential of rural modernisation and development.” The president also noted that it is good that the imbalance in development between urban and rural areas is being addressed by a shift in focus and resources.
An overview of the new integrated rural development master’s programme was given by programme coordinator, Dr Amani Ishemo who highlighted key aspects of the course of study. The programme consists of 11 modules which will be delivered over 18 months or six semesters with specialisations in rural entrepreneurship, rural land management and settlement development. The first cohort began the programme in January 2019. Dean of the Faculty of The Built Environment, Dr Garfield Young who chaired the launch ceremony, expressed gratitude to the programme’s coordinator, Dr Amani Ishemo, other members of the faculty and the wider university, as well as the several agencies of government and other local and international partners who have been instrumental in bringing the MSc in Integrated Rural Development to fruition.
Partner agencies include Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Inter- American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA) and The Bureau of Standards, all of which have in place memorandum of understanding partnership arrangements with the university; the Scientific Research Council, the Planning Institute of Jamaica and Brandon University, Canada.