Rajeem Louden said he dropped out of Charlemont High School in Linstead, St. Catherine, in 2016 when he was in fifth form.
“I was very disappointed,” he added. “But it is not the end of life if you drop out of school.”
Instead of continuing down the slippery slope, the youngster did a bit of introspection, and opted to tap into the skill he learnt during childhood.
He learnt farming from his late grandfather, Victor Louden, who had a farm at Rose Hall in Linstead.
Rajeem recalled: “I always took the time out when I was young to go to the farm with my grandfather and watch how he did his thing, and learn a thing or two. Over time, the love and passion for farming grew.”
When he dropped out of school, Rajeem continued farming, but on a relatively small scale. He did not have the capital required to take it to the next level.
In light of that, he ventured into the construction industry, working with his father who is a mason.
Rajeem stated that, although his father did not play an active role in his upbringing, he ended up working with him for a few years.
During those few years, Rajeem managed to save enough funds to invest in his first love – agriculture.
“I saved up the money to get the seeds and tools and everything, and then went all into farming [full time],” he told The Beacon.
In addition to raising goats, Rajeem grows a wide variety of crops, including vegetables, banana and sweet potatoes.
A few days ago, he reaped a sweet potato weighing a whopping eight pounds – the largest ever produced by the young farmer.
Most of his crops are sold to vendors at Linstead Market or in the Charlemont Housing Scheme area of Linstead where he resides.
“I just walk out into the community where I have some special people who always support me. Sometimes I also get market in Linstead town from vendors and so forth,” Rajeem said.
He hopes to gain access to additional markets, and to expand his farms.
His plan to plough deeper into agriculture comes at a time when, according to him, many young people in his community shy away from the industry.
“These people aren’t interested in farming; they want it (money) fast; they are in a fast lane,” Rajeem commented. “Most of them just sit on the corner and dig out their hand middle and look out of space; that’s what they are interested in.”
Rajeem, however, encourages especially young people to become involved in constructive activities.
Farming is not a bad option, he opined.
“I would encourage people [to become farmers] because, as you can see, the way the economy is shaping, it is going to be high prices for food. So it is best if you find the time out and plant. In time, you will be rewarded. Farming is something good, and anyone can do it. You just need to have the time and passion for it, because it takes a lot of hard work,” Rajeem further advised.
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