Saying the farming population is disappearing, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture Reginald Austrie has said a number of changes have to be made in agriculture in order to keep the sector alive.
According to him to ensure its continuity agriculture should begin at the school level.
“We have to expand the school agriculture and I have already discussed it with the Permanent Secretary that we have to talk to the Minister of Education and to make agriculture a full-blooded subject from grade K,” Austrie said. “We have many young people in agriculture, but I do not believe that they are getting the advice.”
Austrie believes that there also has to be a greater focus on youth in agriculture.
“People in agriculture who are below 35-40 years, we have to give them the incentive, we have to give them the drive, we have to give them the encouragement because these are the farmers of tomorrow,” he stated. “And they will give you the next 20, 25, 30 years that we require if we have to make a success in agriculture, so we have to pay some attention to that and we have to give that some focus.”
He went on to say that the farming population is aging and disappearing.
“I am worried if things go as is, what’s going to happen to our farming population in the next 10 years? Because the average age I understand is between 60, 65 and 70…” he said.
He warns that people should stop the notion that agriculture is for poor people who did not go to school or who cannot read and write.
Furthermore, Austrie noted that women involved in agriculture should also be recognized.
“Our women in agriculture, how many of us recognize the hard work, how many of us see the vendors on the market and how much regard that we give to them, how much do we appreciate the fact that they are the ones that are actually feeding the nation?” he asked.