Young farmers from across the region are currently in Barbados receiving training in information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance their skills in reaching the agricultural community.

The Web 2.0 Training and Exchange workshop, designed by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), is being held at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, until Wednesday, July 31.

CTA???s mandate is to facilitate access to and disseminate information in the fields of agriculture and rural development to Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The training includes exchange sessions on the use of ICT in agriculture and will give participants hands-on experience in blogging for agriculture and rural development, during intensive practical sessions.

Acting Chief Agricultural Officer, Ralph Farnum, described the initiative as important to the region, given the difficult economic times and the fact that agriculture had been identified as ???one of the major areas for taking our countries??? economies forward now???.

Pointing out that small farmers, in particular, faced major difficulties getting their products to market, he said: ???We have gluts [where] the farmers have lots of produce and sometimes ??? because of a lack of information???they are not able to get them to market because they don???t know [how].???

While stating that information was also lacking in terms of how to put producers in contact with farmers, Mr. Farnum noted that CaFAN had been working to make this possible. He remarked: ???Throughout the whole Caribbean that is what we want, to link agriculture to the other sectors of the economy ??? to tourism [and] it has health benefits in terms of freshness and also in terms of development in terms of agro-processing, agro-industry and value added.

???We have intelligent and driven youth, and let???s not think of agriculture, in terms of the colonial [sense]. There is money to be made in agriculture. But???we have to create the necessary environments for us to link our agricultural producers to the markets. And, a lot of times we have farmers in geographical situations in which they are far remote. We need to find ways of getting that information to our farmers and also to get our farmers to interact with the markets and service provider??? in order for us to be successful as we go forward.???

Commending the participants for their interest in the workshop, Mr. Farnum observed: ???It is good to see all of our youth here when all of our agricultural population, it has been said, has been ageing?????? And, he added that agriculture had to look to its youth to provide work for our people, and for them to come up with innovations in order for there to be entrepreneurs, and value added in terms of what was produced.??

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