Barbados and other islands in the wider Caribbean are unique in nature, since many men are marginalised in the society rather than women.
So says Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, as she met with Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s representative to Barbados, Jean Lowry, during a recent courtesy call.
As a result, McClean has encouraged IICA to consider designing and funding intervention programmes that will address the needs of the island’s men and youth.
McClean explained that the phenomenon of “high single parent, female led households” had forced women in this region to take advantage of educational opportunities. This, she noted, had accelerated women’s social mobility, but based on the enrollment numbers at tertiary institutions, she pointed out that the same could not be said for the males.
“This is not typical in India, Africa, or many developing countries, but it is very unique to the Caribbean. So we need to make viable sectors like agriculture more attractive for our men and youth,” she said, adding that early intervention was important.
Moreover, the minister pointed out that agriculture needed to be marketed as more than planting crops and rearing animals.
“It involves scientific and technological approaches as well… Everyone does not have to plant… People can create by-products, it is important people understand this, and can build on those opportunities,” she stressed.
In response, Lowry said that her organisation would seek to address the priority areas that were identified by Barbados and would continue to support youth in agriculture. She also stated that IICA would consider expanding the Youth Farm Programme into primary schools.
Lowry noted that during her tenure her goals included encouraging persons and entities to take advantage of funding opportunities and stimulating the production of high value crops such as herbs and health foods.
McClean wished the IICA representative a successful residency in Barbados and further praised the work of her organisation and its recent Youth Farm Programme.
She said that she was happy with the latter initiative since it sought to enhance the agricultural skills of students of the St. George Secondary School, St. Lucy Secondary and the Grantley Adams Memorial, as well as to certify the young farmers with a National Vocational Qualification.