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Odelle Simon: Farming his way to success

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Concerned about the high unemployment rate in his community, Odelle Simon decided to pursue a career in farming.

At age 25 he has three farms and is in his second year at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland.

The farm in Portland produces livestock such as rabbits and cows; and cash crops including coffee, hot pepper, sweet pepper, and sorrel. The plot in Trelawny also does cash crops, while the farm in St Catherine cultivates hot pepper, callaloo and sweet potato.

“I decided to become a farmer because of the number of unemployed persons in my community of Kildare in Portland. I chose to create jobs for the residents and myself,” Simon told the Jamaica Observer.

“I have been in the Jamaica 4H Club for over 15 years and all that I have accomplished I would say it's because of the club. They taught me almost everything and have brought me to where I am today,” he confided.

His passion for farming was further enhanced while attending Port Antonio High School.

“I started farming when I was in fourth form, at the age of 15, when I attended the Minard Livestock Show — and luckily I won two cattle. After my final year in high school I saw myself doing business through agriculture by cattle rearing. As I grew into cattle rearing I found that I was also interested in mixed farming, so I did some research to find a crop that was in high demand for the export market. I realised that cocoa was in high demand at the time,” said Simon.

He started with one acre of cocoa and some livestock, but unfortunately lost the majority of the crop through praedial larceny.Thieves also made off with the goats he had reared. But the setback did not stop him from pursing his passion.

“I have learnt and achieved a lot throughout the years. I am happy to be able to contribute to my community and my country in a positive way,” said Simon whose farms employ between six to nine people.

“What I enjoy most about farming is that it gives me the ability to help unemployed residents to get a job, and it helps me financially. I also intend to grow my business through agriculture and hopefully to employ more residents from the community,” he shared.

Simon started a bachelor in business administration and project and program Management at University College of the Caribbean but left to pursue studies in agriculture.

“I am currently studying general agriculture and by the help of God, I will be pursuing a bachelor in food processing afterwards,” he told Career & Education.

Simon is a Nutramix Youth in Agriculture ambassador, a role he holds dear to his heart.

“Being an ambassador for Nutramix Youth in Agriculture, this has highlighted my profession as a farmer and of course, it has given me the opportunity and motivation to grow in agriculture,” he said.