A Government official believes it is “imperative” to encourage young people to work in the agricultural sector.

This is the view of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Esworth Reid, who was speaking during the launch of the Ministry’s Youth Agri-preneurship Incubator programme, today at Almond Bay, in Hastings, Christ Church.

The Permanent Secretary said that the state of the sector was “under threat”, as the farming community in Barbados was ageing.

“It is imperative that we move with haste to create an enabling environment that would promote the emergence of a copious supply of young agriculture experts, trained at the highest and widest level of agricultural science and entrepreneurship if we are to adequately and effectively replace those persons that are now or will in the near future exit the sector.

“Reliable studies have shown that the greater part of our family community in Barbados and the wider Caribbean is over the age of 60, and if a concerted and serious effort is not made to replenish this greater segment of the farming community, our agricultural sectors and our food security in the very near future will be seriously compromised,” he warned.

Mr. Reid added that educational institutions, as well as Governmental and non-governmental organisations, should work together to create more opportunities in the sector for young people and to encourage them to execute ideas and be innovative.

“I call on those persons who may be employed in management and decision- making positions in their organisations, public sector and private sector, to stop and think and see wherever possible we can create, encourage or work with the new innovative ideas rather than suppress them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Project Coordinator of the Human Resource Development Strategy (HRDS), Maureen Pollard, applauded the programme, explaining that it would generate interest in the area of agribusiness. She also encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them in the programme.

“Remember to use your facilitators to support you in developing your business ideas and seek to create new innovative products… please also take advantage of the tools provided to you to network and collaborate,” she advised.

The youth Agri-preneurship programme was designed for individuals aged 16 to 35 under Pillar Five of the HRDS, and it is sponsored by the European Union. The 23 participants are expected to be introduced to a number of areas, including Business Principles; Science and Technology in Agriculture; Organic Methods; and Research Methods.

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