Jamaica: 15-year-old farmer urges other young people to try farming

Jamaica Observer:-  AT just 15 years old, Matthew Thomas has already made a name for himself locally as the farmer whose 1,740-pound Jamaican Braham bull won the Champion Bull “Other Beef Breeds” category for two consecutive years at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show.

The young farmer, who has hopes of one day becoming a veterinarian, told the Jamaica Observer that though farming is hard work, he would encourage other young people to try it.

“It takes commitment and lot’s of work, but it’s something you have to try for yourself,” he said. “You’ll never know, you can’t knock it until you try it. Just give it a try.

“Farming has so many branches, it’s crazy to even imagine. You can raise small animals like rabbits or chickens; that’s still farming in itself, and eventually you can branch out into larger animals if you like,” he said.

Though the 15-year-old is no stranger to claiming the top spot in livestock competitions at Denbigh, having won in the category of Supreme Champion Dairy Heifer in 2016 at just 13 years old, Matthew told the Observer that he was especially happy for this year’s victory at Denbigh, which was held on the weekend in May Pen, Clarendon, from August 4 to August 6.

“I’m feeling pretty good knowing that we came out on top out of all these other bulls and seeing lovely animals that we brought to the show, and knowing that we had the best out of them all was a pretty good feeling,” he said, adding that he had been raising the three-year-old bull for two years now.

Matthew, who attended Glenmuir High School before relocating to Florida a year ago to complete his secondary-level studies, told the Observer that he had to come back to Jamaica this year to compete at Denbigh.

Speaking about his love for farming, Matthew said: “My love came from going to the farm with daddy from a young age. Knowing him, he was always going to the farm and since I was a baby, he just always brought me out and I just loved going to the farm, [and] loved being around the animals.

He said his father, Winston Thomas, operates TrinJam Farms in Rhymesbury, Clarendon.

Matthew and his father, who were part of a four-man team competing at this year’s show, were representing Nutramix.

“My father is the technical sales manager for Nutramix and this is the team’s fifth year entering the competition. Dr Gabrielle Young, who is the vet at Nutramix, won Supreme Champion Sheep, her third year in a row, and we also have a dairy farmer, Oral Wallace, who’s competing with us, he’s going up for the Supreme Champion Dairy Heifer,” Matthew said.

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