IICA Barbados promotes youth participation in the farms
Barbados. The Youth Farm Summer Programme is an eight-week intensive training plan in crop and animal farming with a focus on the production of diversified vegetables, root crops and herbs for local markets. The programme is collaboratively offered by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Barbados Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council. The Youth Farm emphasizes student learning in essential farming knowledge, as well as the development of farm management and business management skills.
The Youth Farm Concept was inspired by the Rural Education and Agriculture Programme (REAP) in Belize which was originally initiated in response to perceived deficiencies in rural primary schools. The scheme involved practical applications on REAP school farms with gardens, coops, hutches, etc. used to revive youth interest in agriculture, as an avenue for increasing agricultural knowledge and skills among young people, and to build entrepreneurial skills for at-risk youth.
The proposed project concept is that of a Youth Farm involving a collaborative venture with IICA, a local farm (to be identified) and local high school students. The youth are to be actively engaged in running a small segment of the farm from raising seedlings, harvesting produce, packing the food for retail sales, and doing on-farm sales.
It aims to:
- To teach young people about good agricultural principles and business management skills, organic agriculture, protected agriculture and sustainable farming as a means of strengthening national food security
- To increase youth involvement and interest in agriculture and promote it as a good career choice
- To establish an agrotourism demonstration site featuring local youth
During their skills training, students will be taught the correct techniques for performing practical farming techniques. Workshops will include topics such as crop lanning, greenhouse propagation, organic farming methods, agribusiness planning, recordkeeping, and integrated pest management. For animal husbandry electives, the focus will be on nutrition, daily care and observation. The ornamental agriculture elective includes greenhouse and nursery management.
Physical farm work is a core component of the programme. Participants are expected to practice all areas of farming including preparing beds, seeding, planting, laying drip irrigation, composting, and harvesting.
The key participants of this initiative are the Ministry of Agriculture (support) , Ministry of Education (allocation of school participants), IICA, the Young Farmers’ Association (farmer mentors), and the Private farm owner (mentor, youth farm facilitator).