|Address by the Minister of Agriculture at the Graduation Ceremony of the Rural Development Commission Training Program|
|Written by Mark Byer|
|Friday, 02 July 2010 09:50|
Address by Senator, the Honourable Haynesley Benn
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on the
Occasion of the Graduation Ceremony of the Rural
Development Commission/Small Business
Association Training Programme at
Foundation School, Christ Church
on August 23, 2008, at 4:00 p.m.
Thank you, Master of Ceremonies.
Minister Patrick Todd, Representative for the City of Bridgetown, Permanent Secretary (ag.), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chairman and Members of the Board of the Rural Development Commission (RDC), Director and Staff of the Rural Development Commission, Ms. Lynette Holder, Director of the Small Business Association Inc., Graduands, Resource Persons from the Small Business Association, Participants of the Training Programme, Members of the Press, Specially Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Good evening.
It is a special honour to be given the opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the training achievements of the graduands of the 2007/2008 programme for Small Business Entrepreneurs. This is a momentous occasion for you, the graduands, not only because you will be officially recognized and be presented with awards for participation in your respective training courses, but particularly because the occasion signals the beginning of a new chapter in your professional. You now face the dawn of a wonderful new day in your lives as a small entrepreneur. We anticipate that this will impact positively on Barbados’ economic landscape.
Needless to say, this is both a privilege and a responsibility, a responsibility that you have to herald your achievement for others to follow. The knowledge, training and experience you have gained from this program will provide you with the tools to adapt to your business so that you can make a more significant contribution as an individual in transforming our beautiful Barbados into a better land.
However, you must understand that while conventional skills training may give you new techniques and methods, it won’t develop your maturity, belief or courage, which is so essential for the development of managerial and strategic capabilities. You must now venture far beyond and outside the class-room. Training - or learning, to look at it from your view – is any avenue which offers learning and developmental experience and covers work-related skills and knowledge. Training and learning development in the wider sense includes aspects such as: ethics and morality; attitudes and behaviour; leadership and determination, as well as skills and knowledge.
The Commission commenced its operation in 1996; its broad stated objective was designed to improve the quality of life for the people, which include you, the graduands of rural Barbados. In this regard, I think of the words of Mark Twain which are relevant on this occasion, and I quote “There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones. In essence when Twain’s philosophy is interpreted, it implies that training - is an indispensable tool. Essential for the organization and helps improve quality, customer satisfaction, productivity, morale, management succession, business development and profitability.
Approximately seven (7) years ago, to be exact, the Commission entered into a strategic partnership with the Small Business Association (SBA) for the systematic training of practicing and prospective small business persons. This partnership has borne much fruit and I therefore salute the Small Business Association and the Rural Development Commission for a job well done.
In addition the RDC partnered with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to stage a mini green house demonstration at Agro-Fest 2006. This resulted in some twenty (20) persons expressing an interest in technology. These persons later participated in training organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.
Agro-Fest 2006 saw the RDC sponsoring the participation of fifty-five (55) agro-entrepreneurs and other small businesses in showcasing their products and services at this national event.
During the same year the Commission staged a number of training courses aimed at enhancing the business development capabilities of rural people from which agro-Entrepreneurs optimize the opportunity to strengthen their business management skills.
Last but not least, RDC continued the provision of public relations and promotions to Small Farmers and other persons involved in agribusinesses in Barbados through the hosting of three rural enterprise showcases at Lester Vaughn Secondary School, St. Michael; Belleplaine, St. Andrew; and Princess Margaret Secondary School, Six Roads, St. Philip.
Historically, Barbadian culture is not one that is well disposed to entrepreneurship mainly because our educational system is inclined towards creating employable human resources rather than human resources geared towards generating employment. There is also the legacy of the failure syndrome in the business sector resulting in a perceived stigma from which the entrepreneur finds it difficult to overcome. Entrepreneurship is the major ingredient in the development of new businesses and for exploiting even the smallest opportunities for business start-up. Entrepreneurship in Barbados must therefore be encouraged.
Economic development in Barbados will be perceived as a barren and meaningless exercise if it does not have at its centerpiece, a micro-business development. With this in mind, it was significant that in its inaugural year the Rural Development Commission, through the provision of one million dollars from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, facilitated micro enterprises development by financing projects to assist people of rural Barbados in becoming entrepreneurs.
As a result of the success of this endeavour, a further injection of funds was received three (3) years later with a grant of $1.437 million from the European Development Fund (EDF), which was earmarked for the development of livestock. That same institution also provided capital of $100,000.00 to assist with Fruit Production and Orchard Development. An additional one million dollars was raised from the Agricultural Development Fund enabling the Commission to lend additional impetus to rural micro-enterprise development. As a consequence, you have had and will continue to have resources at your disposal to assist you in creating a culture of entrepreneurship.
From the total injection of 3.537 million over a period of seven (7) years the loans portfolio have grown in excess of nine million dollars for a total of 1,053 loans which were disbursed up to March 31, 2008. In keeping with the nature of the rural economy, most of the loan capital has gone to agriculture and agriculture related projects.
The Rural Development Commission recognizes that money alone cannot do it. It is critical and important that we build capacity and capability by affording existing and new clientele the opportunity for success by training.
Importantly however, the most effective way to develop people is to enable learning and personal development. So, as soon as you have covered the basic work-related skills, focus on enabling learning and development for people as individuals which extends the range of development way outside traditional work skills and knowledge, and creates far more exciting, liberating, motivational opportunities for persons in general and for employers.
I am informed that approximately 5000 persons have benefited from training offered under the auspices of the Commission, approximately 900 persons have been trained from October 2007 to
Ladies and Gentlemen, the successful implementation of this training programme from which persons are graduating today would not have been possible without the dedication of the staff of the Rural Development Commission, practicing and prospective entrepreneurs and the various business entities including the Small Business Association. I wish therefore to express my appreciation to all of the persons who were involved.
At the end of this ceremony, you the graduands will receive some recognition of your achievement. It is hoped that this would further empower you as a small business person and provide you with a renewed passion for translating your knowledge into action. Whole-person development and fulfillment beyond traditional training, coupled with innovative ideas and critical thinking will provide you with much needed tools to battle with the global economy.
Do not be daunted by the phenomenon of borderless societies, or globalization, trade liberalization or the emergence of mega- trading blocs. Be creative, innovative and open-minded, and you will discover learning in virtually every new experience, whether for yourself, your team, or your organization. If you want to make a difference, think about what really helps people to change. Your training is not static and does not end here. This Government will lead the sustainable development of a vibrant rural economy and society.
Dropping out of economic activity is not an option for you; neither is allowing you to drop out an option for the Government of Barbados.
You have my assurance that the strategies you employ in the future, allied to the support to be provided by the Rural Development Commission can produce positive results. Entrepreneurship has economic value to Barbados, as a small island developing state and I implore you to redouble your efforts in order to achieve prosperity and competitiveness. There will be no viable rural development if rural people, and especially the poor have no voice in the design of policies and institutions which affect them.
In closing, let us work to ensure the survival of agriculture and our rural way of life. This will benefit not only those who live in rural Barbados, but all citizens of this great country. We must perform and be rated, stand up and be counted.
Once again I salute the Rural Development Commission and the Small Business Association for a job well done. Even more importantly, I salute you the graduands because you have made it all the more meaningful. May God bless you with happy lives and sustainable small businesses. Remember, the beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.
I thank you.