As part of an on-going student exchange programme across the globe, tutors and students from the Barbados Community College (BCC) will be making a trip next month to New Jersey.

Twenty-six persons including three tutors and 23 students currently enrolled in the Associate Degree in Agriculture programme at the BCC will travel to Essex County College (ECC), New Jersey on Sunday, June 1 for a period of two weeks.

The BCC and ECC are embarking on a series of student exchanges geared towards developing knowledge, skills and experience in agricultural methods to benefit students and faculty at both educational institutions.

This exchange programme will provide them with the opportunity to learn and gain hands on experience in the field of hydroponics and its utilisation for the production of a range of fruits and vegetables.

Over the two-week period at ECC, the group will learn several key aspects of hydroponic farming with the aim of utilising the knowledge in the Agriculture programme at BCC and in Barbados, generally.

There is also expected to be a vast exchange of knowledge about food production and its importance to national growth. This is in keeping with the Government of Barbados??? emphasis on promoting lifelong learning; developing a seamless education system; bridging the gap between academic and technical skills; and expanding the provision and quality of technical and vocational education and training.

According to BCC officials, in seeking to continue to grow the agricultural sector in Barbados there are a number of fundamental skills and competencies that will be developed over the next few years through this exchange programme.??Overall, the programme is expected to create a valuable educational, cultural and tourism exchange between the faculties and students at both colleges.

Both colleges see the benefits to creating links between education and industry and the BCC plans to continue developing programmes of this type which may aid in the revitalisation of important sectors of our economy. The continual growth of the agricultural sector is critical to food security and revenue generation in Barbados.

The Associate Degree in Agriculture is a two-and-a-half-year programme offered by the Barbados College at Howells Cross Road, The Ivy. Students are placed on job attachments to learn all aspects of farming and horticulture and in some cases travel to other regions to develop their skills further.

The collaboration between BCC and ECC was initiated by the St. Patrick’s Heritage and Community Association through Ambassador Robert Morris and Rev. Garvey Ince, who introduced the President of Essex College, Dr. Gayle Gibson, to the Principal and senior staff of the BCC.

This first exchange was facilitated with the assistance of the Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, through joint funding from the Barbados Human Resource Development Strategy and corporate entities.

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