July 3, 2012
BCK launches agricultural crops, poultry production project

At a time when the country’s farmers are aging, it means that in order for our populations to continue eating, the young people have to pick up the mantle in agricultural development.{{more}}

And this is precisely what the agricultural science crops and poultry production project at the Bishop’s College Kingstown has set out to accomplish.

The project was officially launched yesterday, Monday July 2 and seeks to give the students a new, scientific approach to agriculture.

Conroy Huggins, Agricultural Science teacher at the school, told SEARCHLIGHT that the main objective of the project is to introduce to the students new methods of food production.

One idea, according to Huggins, was known as bench terracing, which he said controls soil erosion. With the placement of sheets of plastic along the beds, this is known as mulching; this, according to the Agriculturist, keeps the moisture in, while keeping unwanted weeds out.

Another innovative idea being used, Huggins explained, was known as trenching, where crops such as ginger are placed between the banks, as opposed to the traditional method of planting the crops on the banks.

This, according to Huggins, increases production by as much as 40 to 50 per cent.

Part of the project includes the raising of broilers and layers and it is expected that the manure produced by the birds will be used in the project.

The idea for such a project originated in 2009, he explained, saying that when he came to the school, his primary goal was to create a greater awareness and to change the traditional methods of doing agriculture in the country, while using the school as a model.

“I conceptualized the project in 2009,” he told SEARCHLIGHT, adding that it took some time to put together.

In 2010, Huggins further explained, he began putting things in place, first with a team of persons who were interested in youth development and then putting the relevant documents together.

By 2011, the documents for the principal were completed and it was checked by other agricultural technicians.

Praedial larceny was also a major problem; therefore, Huggins said that he has enlisted persons from the neighbouring Paul’s Avenue community to get involved and to keep an eye on the project while the school is unoccupied.

Louanne Gilchrist, Chief Education Officer, in her presentation, said that part of a well-rounded education was to provide the students with skills on which they were expected to build as they grew older.

She added that it was known that this country has an agro-based economy and it was important that students are fully engaged in agricultural science.

This sentiment was also expressed by Jethro Green, Chief Coordinator of ECTAD/CaFAN, who said that one of the hallmarks of the organization he represented was to ensure that the young people understand their role in agriculture.

“We need food and water to live; we cannot survive without food and water,” Greene said.

His organization was one of the main sponsors of the project, which he said was one of two pilot projects taking place in schools throughout the country.

He pointed out that he was pleased to be affiliated with the project and contended that the future of agriculture needed to have a more scientific and family-oriented approach, as it was becoming more of a business.

Minister of Agriculture and featured speaker Saboto Caesar said that agriculture needed to be analyzed within the context of emancipation.

He explained that following the abolition of slavery, agriculture had been stigmatized and people did not want to associate with it anymore.

But the story needed to change, he contended.

“We must work together to ensure that agriculture becomes a recognized business throughout the length and breadth of the country,” the minister of agriculture said.

He added that agriculture needed to play a central role in the future of this country’s development.

Caesar said there are currently some 17,500 acres of land in farming and some 6,500 registered farmers. He added that the country was blessed with fertile soil and students of an education revolution.

“If we can’t do it, it can’t be done,” he declared, adding that the students at the school had the support of the ministry.

The other partners making donations to the project included the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (DD)