A local agricultural official has identified the entrance of more females into agriculture as a potential area of growth.

Senior Agricultural Officer with the Agricultural Services Unit, Dr. Dennis Blackman, noted that while, over the past few years, they had seen an increasing number of women coming in to register and to ask questions, “the number of registered female farmers is still very small”.

“I see expansion in farming as being supported by female entry into the market and the expansion of those already involved,” he asserted.

According to statistics from the Agricultural Services Unit, of a total of 3,128 farmers registered with the unit at the start of the last financial year, 79 percent were male and 16 percent female. Five percent of registered applicants were unassigned and this figure included plantations and other organisations.

With regard to applications for rebates and other farming incentives, Dr. Blackman said male farmers outnumbered their female counterparts by a 3:1 ratio in terms of the number of persons applying, as well as the number of actual applications made.  Males also outstripped females in relation to the dollar value of rebates being sought.

During the period under review, a total of 165 male farmers applied for 312 rebates compared with 56 females who made 91 applications. This translated into an application rate of 1.89 for males, compared to a rate of 1.62 for females.

In analysing the dollar value of rebates by sex, Dr. Blackman noted that payments to females fell generally in the  $100 – $9,999 range, and were “totally absent”  from the higher categories which ranged  from $10,000 to  over $50,000.

“In fact, the highest single rebate for a female was for $5,000. Recent data, therefore, appears to support the fact that females are reluctant to get involved in high cost agriculture,” Dr. Blackman intimated.

According to the statistics, seven males applied for rebates in the $10,000 – $24,999 range; two in the $25,000 – $49,999 range, and another two in the over $50,000 category, with no females making applications in these high-end categories.

The largest number of female farmers – 36 – applied for rebates ranging from $100 – $499; followed by 26 who sought rebates in the $1,000 – $4,999 price range.  Only seven females made applications for rebates in the $5,000 – $9,999 range, which was the highest recorded value for that sex.

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