|Address by Minister of Agriculture at Launch of the Youth in Agriculture Programme|
|Written by Mark Byer|
|Friday, 02 July 2010 09:45|
Address by Senator the Honourable Haynesley Benn, Minister of Agriculture at the Launch of the Youth in Agriculture Programme, Developing Agri-Preneurs, to be held in the Conference Room,
Ministry of Agriculture on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.
Mr. Chairman; Dr. the Honourable Esther Byer-Suckoo, Minister of Youth, Family and Sports; Mr. Joseph Peltier, Inter-American Institute on Cooperation and Agriculture (IICA) Representative for Barbados; Mr. Irvine Best, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports; Mr. Michael King, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture; Miss Beverley Weekes, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports; Mr. Halley Haynes, Director of Youth; Mr. Barton Clarke, Chief Agricultural Officer; Mr. Andrew Skeete, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC); Mr. James Paul, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Agricultural Society; Chairman and Board Members of BADMC; Ms. Undine Whittaker, Advisor on Poverty Eradication and the Millennium Development Goals; Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture; BADMC; Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme; Fund Access; Barbados Youth Business Trust; Youth Development Services; Enterprise Growth Fund Limited; Representatives of the Media; Special Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with great pride and satisfaction that I address you this morning at the launch of this project to develop “agri-preneurs”. The pilot group will consist of new and current young persons enrolled in the Land Lease Programme and the agri-enterprises will be a mix of crop and livestock.
This launch coincides with our celebration of World Food Day which has as its theme “Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis.” As you are aware, the global food insecurity situation has worsened and continues to represent a serious threat for humanity. Food prices remain extremely high in developing countries and the number of people suffering from hunger has increased in recent years. The present global economic crisis is aggravating the situation by initiating job losses and deepening poverty. FAO estimates that the number of persons suffering from hunger could increase by a further 100 million in 2009 and surpass the one billion mark.
Agriculture is a vital part of our livelihood, contributing to our GDP, foreign exchange earnings, employment, food security and food sovereignty. It has close linkages to tourism and other sub-sectors. Yet, its sustainability is threatened by a number of factors. One significant factor is the lack of interest our youth has in agriculture. It is therefore important that we encourage our youth and provide incentive to advance the process of agricultural development.
Agriculture is important to the development of any nation, therefore it is important that the youth in our country get involved. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to seek to encourage youth participation in the sector. However, this effort will require changing the negative perception youth have of the major participants in agriculture and farmers. Many perceive farmers as being uneducated, unskilled, physical labourers as they view the returns from farming as very low. We must present them with examples of farmers who are not characterized by those attributes and who can demonstrate to them the benefits of agriculture and agricultural entrepreneurship.
It is indeed heartening that the Barbados Agricultural Development Management Company Limited (BADMC) as part of its mandate to facilitate the development of agricultural programmes, particularly among the youth has established a partnership with the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT), Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES), Fund Access, Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and Youth Development Services. The BYBT and YES have been providing the business development support to interested young persons, therefore building their capacity to effectively manage any resources provided under the Land Lease Programme. Fund Access will be offering micro-financing solutions to participants, the (BAS) will assist with team building, technical and marketing skills to the youth while the Youth Development Service (YDS) will assist with the counseling of participants. The Ministry of Agriculture will be offering technical assistance and will provide access to resources.
We would all agree and acknowledge that the future of our country and generation will heavily depend on the adequate and appropriate development of our youth in all aspects of society. Taking into consideration the history of agriculture in Barbados, we need to gather together all measures and strategies to achieve the vision of the redevelopment of agriculture. Our agricultural population is ageing and therefore it is critical that programmes are established to provide creative and exciting opportunities for young persons to develop sustainable agribusinesses through the provision of preferential access to land and the provision of agronomic, entrepreneurial and business development support.
The programme is structured to introduce youth to entrepreneurship and it is envisaged that through this programme young persons would develop knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations needed for success, not only in being self-employed and engaged in entrepreneurship, but also in contributing to society and the economy of the 21st century.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to highlight a few of the objectives of the programme and to reflect on some opportunities for our youth in the agricultural sector. The programme is expected to, inter alia:
In the past, applicants who did not meet the criteria for the Land Lease Programme were not given an opportunity. However, government has taken a stance on food security, creating employment, fostering entrepreneurship and a business approach to agricultural production. Hence, a decision was made that young persons who have a business proposition which has merit would be supported.
The programme would be beneficial to the participants by:
As I close, I express hope that this launch will address some of the challenges and constraints faced by the agricultural sector. It is important that we encourage our youth to advance the process of agricultural development. We adults who operate in the field of agriculture must accept responsibility to sensitize the youth of the opportunities available in agriculture. Let us draw from our knowledge and experiences to ensure a more food secured nation and an enhanced quality of life.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.