The Jamaica 4-H Clubs was established in April 1940 as a merger between the juvenile arm of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and the Jamaica Welfare Limited, now known as the Social Development Commission (SDC). The Clubs was formed as a means of imparting specialised training to youth.
The Organisation is a Statutory Body funded through Central Government under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. The effective implementation of programmes and projects required to achieve the Organisation’s mission is facilitated through partnerships with Public and Private Sector agencies as well as International Organisations. This mix provides financial support through grants, donations, bursaries and scholarships as well as technical support.
The Clubs is an amalgamation of parish organisations operating under the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Act, 1966 and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Regulations, 1972. The Regulations of 1972 establish the Area Advisory Councils (Parish Advisory Councils) and the Island Advisory Council (IAC), and sets out their functions, memberships, officers, and general operating guidelines. The Jamaica 4-H Clubs Act, (1966) establishes the Board of Management, functions of the Board, as well as guidelines related to Funds and Resources of the Board, Borrowing Powers, Appointment of Officers and general operating procedures.
Volunteerism plays a critical role in the realisation of the mission of the Organisation, as it prepares youth to develop sustainable livelihoods and become positive contributors to nation building. The Voluntary Arm of the Organisation comprises:
1. The Parish Advisory Council (PAC);
2. The Island Advisory Council (IAC);
3. The National Leaders’ Association (NALA);
4. The Junior Leaders’ League (JLL) and;
5. The Jamaica 4-H Friends and Alumni Association.
The Organisation operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, targets its programmes mainly to Early Childhood, Primary, All-Age, Junior High, Secondary, Technical High Schools, community and church populations. These programmes are designed to develop self- sufficiency and leadership skills, as the Organisation’s core function is to provide youth with developmental and empowerment training in agricultural-related areas to develop sustainable livelihoods and become positive contributors to nation building. The Clubs continues to address new and dynamic issues of urban living, adaptive technologies and lifestyle requirements, which are placing significant impositions on the already meagre resources of the Clubs.
The development of new programmes is geared towards rectifying some of the listed challenges outlined in the national priorities for youth development as well as strategic imperatives such as:
Entrepreneurship, Health, Continued Education, Youth Relations, Care and Protection, Living Environment, Participation and Empowerment.
The Clubs is the premier youth organisation in Jamaica and as it strives to continue mobilising youth to be nation builders, it seeks to broaden its organisational appeal by fostering and establishing collaboration with the internal 4-H Movement as well as other international partners.
Other objectives underpinning this thrust include:
1. Centre development in order to improve economic viability and productivity in order to increase training opportunities for the Clubites;
2. Equipping public educational institutions with technologically driven school gardens in order to encourage practical agricultural training in all schools and increase the number of youth participating in agriculture;
3. Fostering the development of agri-related value added items by developing and placing new products on the market in order to increase income;
4. The Healthy Lifestyle Awareness Programme which aims to impact at least 20,000 persons annually, thus creating more health conscious consumers;
5. The Livestock Development Programme for the expansion of at least six livestock enterprises;
6. Increasing the application of appropriate and adaptable agricultural technologies and programmes;
7. Implementing youth empowerment programmes to provide youth with
entrepreneurial support with inputs and training, facilitating increased production and income generation;
8. Promoting and fostering partnerships for rural development in order to provide opportunities for rural women to start agricultural and agri- related business production of value added products.