These Five Young Caribbean Farmers Redefine Coolness

Globally, the need to attract youth to the agricultural sector has become ubiquitous. From the United States, where the average age of a farmer is 57, to Japan, where the average age is 67, factors such as urbanization and high start-up costs have created an aging crisis with implications for food security. For some countries, attracting young blood is a matter of survival. For example, in the Caribbean, where 80% of all food is imported and climate shocks have left farmers at the mercy of the environment, innovation, technical literacy and fresh energy have become a must.

But crisis conditions have a way of bringing about change. And across the region, there is a growing movement of young, dynamic agribusiness entrepreneurs who are not only successful in agriculture but also influencing their peers to impress. Regional stakeholders were also involved, identifying emerging agribusiness leaders and helping them expand their reach to attract more young people to the industry.

All of a sudden, Caribbean agribusiness seems so much sexier and not that old.

“A rethinking, a paradigm shift is taking place in how we view and relate to youth, to make a real change in youth participation in agriculture,” said Carla Barnett, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat. “I Am Agriculture: Youth in Agriculture”, a CARICOM social media campaign developed with the support of the United Nations World Food Programme.

“Caribbean youth have risen to the call for food and nutrition security by embracing the region’s 25 by 2025 initiative,” says Shawn Baugh, Program Manager for Agriculture and Agri-Industry Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, as pressure to reduce food imports from outside the region and the Caribbean’s $5 billion food import bill by 2025. reduced by 25%.

“CARICOM’s young agricultural entrepreneurs demonstrate their commitment to transforming the Agri-food system by infusing technology and digitalization to improve production, productivity and trade. Ideally, to make agriculture sustainable, productive, profitable and attractive.”

The new generation of Caribbean farmers is successful, smart, stylish, technical and under thirty-five. Goodbye grandpa in overalls! Here are five young Caribbean farmers who oppose the traditional image of farming.

Toni-Ann Lalor: Jamaica

“I am a farmer; I am a woman at heart,” writes agricultural entrepreneur, actress, model, teacher and philanthropist Toni-Ann Lalor in a recent post to her 48.1k Instagram followers.

Best known as the “Farm Queen” of Jamaica, Lalor won that title in 2019 at the age of 24 when she competed in the Miss Jamaica World pageant, where she took home the “Purposeful Beauty” award.

As the Owner and Operator of Toni’s Fresh Products, Lalor frequently shares pictures of her own-grown colorful fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, watermelons, pumpkins, Jerusalem artichokes, bell peppers, tomatoes and cantaloupe.

Lalor is an advocate of the economic potential of agriculture, especially among the young, and is living proof that farming is not a job for the elderly or the uneducated. On the contrary, Lalor was able to pay for her studies for her Bachelor of Fine Arts with the earnings from her farm.

In 2022, Lalor competed against 53 other contestants and won the Miss United Nations World title in India. His platform was food sovereignty and hunger reduction.

About his win, Lalor told the Jamaica Observer: “This fits very well with my larger plan to rebrand agriculture to attract young people. We need to start this conversation to make it more compelling by looking at food safety, innovation and technology.”

Jamaican Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr. “He never forgot that he was a farmer,” he says. “He said to the world, ‘Look how beautiful a farmer can be’ and that means a lot to me. daughter and other young people who look after her.”

John Jones: Barbados

“I distribute over 25 different crops to anyone who wants to grow them here in Barbados. Let’s grow together,” read a recent article Chirp An impressive seed library image is from farmer John Jones, who garnered almost 700 likes from his fast-growing fan base.

The 30-year-old Director of Thirteen Acre Farms Ltd has become a true Bajan celebrity since purchasing his own farm 18 months ago and wants to reduce his country’s food import bill by growing Barbados specially imported crops like broccoli. It also hopes to open farms in the Caribbean to support the region’s 25 by 2025 initiatives.

A well-traveled former college basketball star who graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Management, Jones wants to encourage interest and participation in the production of Barbados’ local food. He has been providing hands-on farming training to both children and adults for over a year.

“It has always been very important to me to teach my own people about farming and to share my knowledge,” he says. “Let’s all grow up together.”

Alpha Sennon: Trinidad and Tobago

Alpha Sennon, 35, “FarmerPreneur” and an agribusiness graduate from the University of the West Indies, is both a farmer and social entrepreneur with a mission to inspire the youth of the region to take an interest in farming.

As Founder and Executive Director of the award-winning NGO WHYFARM, Sennon seeks to “contribute to achieving food and nutrition security through innovation, creativity and agricultural entrepreneurship.”

In keeping with this mission, Sennon has created the world’s first and only Food and Nutrition Security Superheroes: “AGRIman” and “Photosynthesista,” the protagonists of the AGRIMAN AGventures comic book series sold in the Caribbean.

Sennon and WHYFARM received support from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kirchner Impact Foundation, Thought For Food Foundation, and Digicel.

In 2022, Sennon joined the 50 NEXT classes as one of the world’s top 50 groundbreaking activists and was named by Ashoka as one of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs and thought leaders, from which he received Trinidad & Tobago’s first Ashoka Fellowship in the social sciences. entrepreneurship

Teesha Mangra-Singh, Guyana

Guyanese, 27-year-old Teesha-Mangra Singh, President Dr. He is the CEO of Irfaan Ali’s Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Program (AIEP). high-value crops in the comfort of government-built climate-friendly canopy houses. Launched in January 2022, the program is an important element of the government’s agri-business strategy.

Mangra-Singh, who holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from the Guyana School of Agriculture and a Bachelor of Agriculture from the University of Guyana, remembers that initially people tried to dissuade her from entering the male-dominated industry, but it was her love for him. nature, animals and agriculture would bear fruit. She now dedicates her time to encouraging other women and youth to join the rapidly growing agricultural sector, and she was recently a speaker at Guyana’s Women and Youth Agriculture Symposium.

“We need youth in agriculture as they are the largest shareholder of our population and we need food to bring us closer to safety,” Mangra-Singh told local news provider in the Guyana Times. “Our entire farm is climate-friendly and we use innovative practices because we understand that young people are more au fait with technology and more inclined to work with innovative practices rather than traditional farming where you have to get out in the sun.”

Anastasha Elliott: St. Kitts and Nevis

Anastasha Elliott is an agricultural entrepreneur who adds value to her country’s organic and native plant and marine ingredients through her company, Sugar Town Organics.

Sugar Town Organics is a health and wellness company that Elliott founded in 2004 that specializes in ethical products made from natural ingredients typically sourced from his own garden, neighboring mountains, or an organic plant farm in his own community.

Sugar Town Organics’ beauty brands Yaphene and Marapa skincare offer vegan skin, hair, and body care products “infused with Caribbean food” inspired by traditional Caribbean beauty practices, herbal medicine, food, and culture, while Baba Lullaby, Sugar Town Organics ‘truck. ‘ natural baby skin care series.

Elliott’s food and beverage brand, Flauriel, produces handcrafted wines, condiments, snacks and other products using Caribbean produce and traditional practices. Flauriel Soursop Jelly, for example, is made from freshly squeezed cinnamon herb juice harvested directly from Elliott’s garden.

Elliott is passionate about the role of natural remedies in maintaining health and well-being, and just as passionate about entrepreneurship.


Caribbean youth agribusiness entrepreneurship is the region’s best option for a more resilient future, especially in the context of climate change and the cost of living and supply chain challenges experienced globally since 2020.

Traditional farming rules typically do not take into account the new realities of climate change, such as unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts, and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. An old and aging workforce and manual processes may not be able to adapt to rapidly changing global conditions.

“We need to look at the solutions offered by the youth. We need to listen to the youth and identify what some of the solutions are. “Young people need now more than ever to be part of the solution to the various challenges we are discussing,” said Regis Chapman, World Food Programme’s Multi-Country Representative and Country Director for the English and Dutch-Speaking Caribbean Office.

Youth participation in agriculture is crucial to achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work (UN Sustainable Development Goal 8). Agriculture also provides a pathway to youth empowerment, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security. It’s time for young, fresh energy to revive an industry that currently only meets 20% of the region’s food demand – for a true entrepreneur, this represents an opportunity.

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