If the local agriculture sector is to have a thriving future, then a cadre of young, skilled Barbadians could provide the injection the industry needs.
This is the view of Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Charleston Lucas, who said while many persons had already ???sounded the death knell’ for agriculture, it still remained a very noble and economically viable sector.
Speaking at the launch of the fifth phase of the Youth in Agriculture programme at the Ivy Community Centre, The Ivy, St. Michael, he encouraged the young participants to ignore the naysayers and to explore job opportunities in the sector, pointing out that there were many Barbadians who made a very good living from agriculture.
"Despite what you may hear from persons, that agriculture is only for drop outs, [that] it is very hard and very difficult and you don’t make any money; I’m sure I can show you one or two persons in the farming community
who have done really well…There are persons who have made a success of their lives through farming," he said.
Stressing the need for more youth to get involved in the sector, the Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer said this would allow some of the older stalwarts to pass on their valuable skills and techniques to the younger generation.
"Why do we need the youth involved? Because of the ageing population of the labour force in agriculture. The average age now is about 60 and for any industry to be sustainable we need an influx of young people, persons taking over from the older folks and learning the trade and carrying it on," he stressed.
Mr. Lucas said the Ministry was cognisant that if agriculture was to develop, it would fall to young, skilled Barbadians to carry the sector forward.
In this regard, he noted government remained committed to providing support for training institutions such as the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, the Barbados Community College and the University of the West Indies.
He also revealed that plans were still afoot for the establishment of an agricultural training facility in St. Lucy, which would offer practical education in the field.