The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs (MAFBA) in June, sent off six (6) students and two (2) teachers chosen to attend the IICA Youth Farm Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) Program in Barbados.
Seven (7) of the candidates participated in the Crops CVQ Program while two (1) were enrolled in the Livestock Program. This is the third set of candidates from Antigua and Barbuda to participate in the Youth Farm program.
The Youth Farm Summer Program was an eight-week intensive training plan in crop and livestock farming and land-based fisheries. The focus was on diversified vegetables, meat, and fish for local markets. The program is collaboratively offered by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training in Barbados, and the Barbados Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council.
Wednesday morning, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Hon. Samantha Marshall and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) National Specialist, Craig Thomas officially welcomed back the students and teachers from their Summer in Barbados.
Each student had the opportunity to give their feedback on how they found their experience in Barbados. For all of them it was their first time without their parent’s guidance and had to learn to grow up quickly and be responsible for themselves. For Teledo Nelson in particular of the St. Mary’s Secondary School he expressed that prior to the trip he has always been an introvert and found it very hard to socialize with persons but the trip gave him an opportunity to open up and grow as individual and be more social with his colleagues and teachers. Mr. Nelson even expressed that he is interested in becoming a chef and will ensure that his establishment will be a farm to table experience so that he can incorporate his love for both farming and culinary arts into his business.
All of the students expressed that they learnt so much on the trip and they are looking forward to sharing that knowledge and implementing it in their school’s agriculture programs and even start their own farms.
Hon. Samantha Marshall commended the students for their good behavior on the trip and for their courage to go on such a journey. She also pledged that there is a youth farm in the works to be created with the assistance of the Agriculture Extension Division and she assured the young men that they will be fully welcomed to assist in the creation of the farm and even teach upcoming persons who are interested in Agriculture, some of what they would have learned.
“The Youth Farm will extend further as during PiAngo Fest we realized that there were a number of young people who are involved in agro-processing, and so what we want is an actual youth farm that extends to not just crop and livestock production but also showing them how to be business farmers and have any excess produce be put into the agro-processing component of it,” expressed Minister Marshall.
Minister Marshall encouraged the young men to keep pushing in the agriculture sector as they are the future of the country and the country needs its producers.
IICA Specialist, Craig Thomas expressed that the feedback that he received from Barbados was nothing but great news on not just the work ethic of the young men but also their level of interest and involvement throughout the entire program.
Mr. Thomas also explained that he hopes that it will be a continuous collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and the IICA Youth Farm Program so that other students who are interested in the agriculture field can have the same opportunity and get hands on training and experience for themselves and also share the knowledge gained with others.
He also gave credit to the teachers, Ms. Denise Hodge of the Glanville Secondary School and Gale Emmanuel of the Princess Margaret Secondary School who dedicated their entire summer vacation to accompany the young men on the trip.