Agricultural Workshop Reports Good Turn Out From Farmers And Stakeholders

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Farmers and Stakeholders across Antigua and Barbuda turned out in their numbers at a two- day workshop to learn more advanced farming methods which can be used to enhance their earnings and productivity within the agricultural sector.

Education Specialist in Agriculture and livelihood for the Commonwealth Of Learning (COL) Programme Dr. Moses Tenywa said that today’s (Mon) meeting went very well as they were reflecting on the major progress that was made since the COL Programme for Life- long Learning for Farmers was launched in around three years ago.

He said that a great deal of work has been done and several changes have taken place with the farming community.

“Farmers have increased their production, they have also increased their incomes, they have evolved in selling in the markets and they are also receiving technology; some are actually involved in irrigation using the drip systems. Some of the farmers that actually visited Jamaica, some of them have even improved their records and are prioritizing their system of traceability whereby one can be able to trace their produce right from their farms.”

With the effectiveness of COL’s Programme locally, Dr. Tenywa said that the time has come to take it a step further.

“What has brought me now is to hold hands together with the different partners and different organizations; the ministries of Agriculture, Finance and Environment; all the different organizations, financial organizations, insurance, the farmers, so that more benefits can outgrow to more farmers more quickly.”

COL’s Programme benefits developing countries in the commonwealth and they are also working in the Caribbean to included Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, the Bahamas,
The Pacific, Africa and Asia also conduct similar programmes.

Asked about his observations over the short period he has been here, Dr. Tenywa credits the farmers who are engaged in Good Agricultural Practices to include marketing, increased production, matching production to the quality of the sale and record keeping.

He said that the farmers are willing to work and interest has been shown in creating a Farmer Producer Finance Company and working together as a cooperative in order to address some of the outstanding challenges.

Following this inaugural visit, Dr. Tenywa goes to Jamaica then to The Bahamas. Technical Officer within the Agriculture Extension Division who is also COL’s Programme Lead, Mr. Owolabi Elabanjo noted that the two-day workshop will enhance the knowledge and skills of those involved in the programme.

“Those of course who are already in the COL family who have been attending our workshops, this is a great opportunity to upscale what programmes we have been doing. We need to move on the next level by the time Dr. Moses come on board, we all
understand where we are heading to and I want to really give us the challenge that moving forward from here, especially the farming community, that this is going to be an
opportunity for us to create a financial group or a cooperative group or movement that
can be bankable with our financial decisions because they are here.”

The meeting attracted participants from the COL’s Programme, agricultural stations, agricultural officers, social transformation, stakeholders including banks, credit union and local government and representatives from CARDI and IICA, among others.

The Commonwealth of Learning Livelihood Development Programme started in Antigua and Barbuda in May 2017 but was officially launched in June of that year.

One participants said that the COL Programme has been beneficial to her because as it helps her with her record keeping skills, an area of farming that some farmers fail to pay keen attention to. She mostly grows herbs for over five years now.

According to Petranilla Estreada-Joseph- COL’s Programme Assistant and Agriculture Assistant Three at the Agriculture Extension Division, The Commonwealth of Learning is an Inter-governmental Agency formed by commonwealth heads in 1987.

Its purpose is to create and widen access to opportunities for learning, making use of the potential offered by distance education and by the application of communication technologies to education.

COL’s activities also help to strengthen the capacity of member countries to
develop their human resources

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