More young farmers needed

Eight years ago the average age of the Barbadian farmer was 50, but now it has dropped to 38 as ageing agricultural workers exit the industry.

At the same time, the sector’s total contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had significantly declined.

The situation is of serious concern to officials, including Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, who today warned that the future of industry will be in doubt unless more young people get involved.

Dr Estwick also highlighted the importance of investing in the youth, saying it was critical “to our national economic development and food and nutrition security”.

He was addressing the awards ceremony of the Youth Agri-Preneurship Incubator Programme and launch of the second cohort.

The programme, which ran for four months, sought to provide 20 young people with both practical and theoretical knowledge of the industry in the face of what Project Manager Kareem Payne said “gradual but perpetual decline” in agriculture, which he said had left the island “in a very precarious position”.

“Perhaps the most damning and critical change has been the intangible change in the perception of agriculture by the citizens of Barbados, which unfortunately has been passed on to the current generation and [is] seemingly being passed on to the next,” Payne said.

Also addressing the gathering at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Esworth Reid, criticised parents for telling their children not to get involved in the sector on account of “foolish pride”, which he said was preventing them from seeing the opportunities in agriculture for educated young Barbadians “to develop and apply the productive, scientific, innovative and creative skills they would have acquired from the free education they were exposed to”.

“I am saying this in reflection of our 50th year of Independence. There are still some parents who would insist that their educated children should never work in agriculture, when in fact, other than the human effort itself, the land and the sea are our only productive resources,” a passionate Reid said.

“What makes it even worse is when parents instill in children that agriculture is only for the dull and ignorant. I will take the opportunity at this time to caution parents who do this, it is neither mature or progressive thinking for a supposedly educated society that has had access to free education for more than fifty years,” he added. (MM)

6 Responses to More young farmers needed

  1. Jeff Austin
    Jeff Austin January 16, 2016 at 5:55 am

    you will need a lot of water for this venture

  2. Neysa Huey
    Neysa Huey January 16, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Current farmers are stopping due to their crops being stolen. Now there are water issues. Why would others be motivated to do it?

  3. David Kinnon January 16, 2016 at 7:27 am

    It’s a bit late to lame nt the condition of the Barbados agricultural sector when the decline of sugar seems to have been replaced with no clear alternative agricultural initiatives, either by the Government or its predecessors. Hand-wringing is pointless-positive action is required.

  4. Maureen Smith January 16, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Barbados prefers to help the Canadian agricultural industry over their own. So sad!

  5. Alex Alleyne January 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    The young farmers are out there but they are into the “weed” farming.

  6. jrsmith January 17, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Our failure, directly to be blamed on , government after government, politicians have allowed , company after company to chip away at the industry ,as if this was a plan, to destroy the sugar industry in Barbados intentionally…how could this just fail.. this was so easy, year after year.. To me bajans should have ask for an inquiry on the demise of the industry, but then again who could you trust..

    The only business would draw our economy, back to some footing, would be agriculture and farming, because we cannot find the investment of the type of manufacturing base, with the high employment requirements..

    Here we go again , a political statement, the government is the people who make sure the base is set , the environment is in place , the various department to advise the investors pointing them in the right direction…it just show where we are at ,with the chicken wing issue, all of this back hand dealing would have to be put right..

    My take , the farmers in Barbados , was crying for decades , of predatory larceny, and nothing seems to be done, not only in Barbados ,this was taking place in Jamaica as well.. why would anyone want to be working to sustain they business and ,having people stealing and destroying they same, this would be have to be put right…giving the required assurance to the farming community…


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