‘Youth involvement in agriculture important’
– says young farmer
With Guyana now playing a vital role as the food basket of the Caribbean Community, and the development of the agriculture sector sitting high on the list of government priorities, it is important now more than ever, for young people to get involved in agriculture.
Twenty-one-year-old farmer Kristan Foster believes this to be true and has taken his place in the evolving sector.
He is currently studying agriculture at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and is an Agriculture Science teacher at the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School.
“The way the world is going right now, we are moving from traditional agriculture, and moving into more of a technological advance in agriculture. So no longer will [persons] be operating in that traditional way. So, it’s good that we as young people can follow up in this technological world because we will catch on quicker,” he said.
The young agriculturalist said his passion for agriculture has made it easy for him to pass on knowledge to his students in a way that is easily digestible.
“The way I practice, I rear chickens and pigs, and I do other stuff. I think, being a young teacher in the system, I think the students understand it more, coming from me,” he explained.
Foster stated that he regularly keeps track of developments in the agriculture sector, and lauded the government’s efforts to boost agriculture in Guyana.
“As the present [agriculture] minister would have said, Guyana was once the bread basket of the Caribbean, and they’re trying to push for us to earn that title again, so I think they are doing a great job.”
He made specific reference to the multi-million-dollar investments made by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) into non-traditional crop cultivation to further diversify Guyana’s production base and ensure food security.
“That’s a great investment when it comes from us moving from a traditional agriculture style to a more technological one because with the hydroponics, we get a faster yield and better profits, so I think it’s a good investment.”
He suggested that the government continue to push more of the modern style of agriculture, as it draws youth in and helps develop their interest in the field.
While he does not currently utilise a modern system of agricultural production, Foster expressed his hope that he would be able to do so in the near future.
“If I could get like artificial insemination at the pig farm, I would be able to get a better yield…. A better breed, more piglets, more meat via the artificial insemination.”
The young man highlighted the diversification being made in theoretical agricultural education through the government’s investment and opined that much is being done for youth.
He also commended the work being done at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) to advance agricultural knowledge, and integrate young people into the sector.
“In terms of GSA, the students who attend GSA are getting exposed to different sectors and career paths in agriculture. So, they can choose whether they want to become an agronomist, a veterinarian, or something else,” Foster stated.
Earlier this year, First Lady, H.E. Arya Ali, in her keynote address to the CARICOM Youth in Agriculture Dialogue, stressed the importance of youth involvement in decision-making which will allow them to contribute to solutions that could lend to the development of agriculture nationally and regionally.
“Transforming the way youth view and engage in the agricultural sector is key to significantly increasing employment, improving livelihoods, and building rural economies that expand in step with fast-growing urban communities” the First Lady had said.
She also pointed out that President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, understanding the importance of young people in agriculture, launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme to bolster the agriculture sector, empower youths and create jobs.
Through this programme, young people who graduated in the field of agriculture are afforded the opportunity to plant high-value crops such as broccoli and cauliflower using shade houses.
At present, the PPP/C Administration continues to make major investments into the agricultural sector, in alignment with its goal to reduce the CARICOM food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. Guyana continues to make strides on its path to becoming the major food producer of the Caribbean region.