Prime Minister David Thompson (File Photo)
Government has firm plans in the works to resuscitate the local 4-H movement and put it on a sure footing. This was revealed last weekend by Prime Minister David Thompson as he outlined an eight-point plan to assist the Barbados 4-H Foundation in achieving its objectives and staying afloat.
He gave this undertaking while addressing the 4-H’s Initiation and Candlelight ceremony. The event took place at the Barbados Workers Union headquarters, at Solidarity House.
In outlining Government’s plan for the movement, the Prime Minister disclosed that the subvention to the body had been doubled and he pledged continued support for its agricultural projects in the Pine Basin.
He also spoke of improvement to its offices at Crumpton Street, the City, that will also include catering facilities. “We intend improving and expanding your base at Crumpton Street and helping you to establish a catering and training facility there. We are also exploring the feasibility of helping you to secure land out in the country where you can develop agricultural projects,” Mr. Thompson said.
Noting that science and technology had a critical role to play in the development of new farming techniques, the Prime Minister said he wanted to see farmers who traditionally tilled the land with a hoe and fork, apply science and technology to produce wholesome foods, earn foreign exchange and build strong communities.
Mr. Thompson also disclosed that there were plans afoot by the Ministry of Education to review the schools’ curriculum to make agriculture and the use of science and technology in this process appealing to students.
“I want 2009 to go down in history as the year when Barbadians returned to the land, not with the fork and hoe, but instead, using science and technology to produce wholesome food; to earn a decent living; to earn foreign exchange; to improve their health; develop their communities and in turn, the nation.”
He also alluded to the role which the upcoming Agrofest and the soon to be established Constituency Councils would play in promoting the 4-H Foundation.
“My Government has noted with considerable satisfaction the successful revival of Agrofest. This year, we shall be supporting it fully to ensure that 4-H’ers get the exposure they deserve.
“One of the first tasks of the new Constituency Councils is to develop a Volunteer Programme where organisations, like 4-H, will get a stream of competent and committed volunteers to do the necessary work to improve the quality of life in communities across Barbados,” Mr. Thompson observed.
Underscoring the need to remove the stigma attached to agriculture, the Prime Minister said the 4-H Foundation was one of the most misunderstood bodies in the island. The movement, he said, had been perceived as an institution that enlisted young people for farming.
“The perception is, of course, that it is an organisation that tries faithfully to get people to farm the land. Bear in mind, that for centuries, most Barbadians have associated the land with hard, monotonous work. You must also bear in mind, that when churches made education available to poor people, parents encouraged their children to learn well, so that they could escape from the land and get a decent job using a pen, instead of a hoe or fork.”
He conceded that the 4-H Foundation was not only about farming and encouraged the creation of 4-H clubs in every school and at the tertiary level.
The 4-H Foundation was established in 1962 and there are 30 clubs across Barbados.