“There is land and there will be land available!”
This was the promise made to agricultural students from the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic last Saturday evening, when the Agriculture Division held its 5th Annual Awards Dinner.
The promise was made by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Haynesley Benn, in response to an appeal for more land by Deputy Principal, Anthony Headley.
Minister Benn, who gave the assurance that existing lands would be directed to the institution for educational purposes, added that plans were also in place for the establishment of a pilot youth project at the Home agricultural Station in St. Philip, which would see a number of green houses being made available for lease by SJPP students.
“Only Thursday, I took the paper to Cabinet to establish the Green House project at the Home,” the Minister revealed, adding that last Tuesday, a team from the Ministry also went on a site visit at Bath, St. John, in keeping with plans for the establishment of a similar project there.
“A number of green houses and appropriate storage facilities will be constructed, which will be leased to young persons who are interested in agricultural activities. These young farmers participating in the programme will receive training in post harvest technology, agro-processing, and farmer group dynamics, as well as in production techniques such as greenhouse management and hydroponics,” he added.
In his address, the SJPP’s Deputy Principal pointed out that the Agriculture Division was among the smallest at the institution, but it however, managed to produce excellent results despite limited resources, including land.
“We train craftsmen and technicians. It is fair to say that we have trained industrialists and technocrats – but we have no land,” he lamented, noting that their success was obtained as a result of a dedicated cadre of teachers.
“Because the view is commonly held that agriculture is back-breaking work in the sun, we seek to train students to think at a level above the hoe, fork and peck. We try to enforce the use of technology and encourage students to look at ways in which they can apply their skills to agriculture,” he added.
Head of the Division, Hector Belle, told the attendees that agriculture was a key plank in the economy, and needed resource inputs.
“We at the SJPP believe that agriculture and horticulture will continue to be a force to drive Barbados’ economy, and it will develop as long as it is provided with the necessary resources,” he underscored.