The agricultural sector in Barbados is in need of more young people, says one senior agriculture official.
Jean Lowry, the Inter-American Institute for Coorporation on Agriculture (IICA) representative to Barbados, said while a lot of people, including females, were involved in various careers in agriculture they were aging.
“There are already in Barbados, a lot of women in agriculture. I think in comparison to some of the other islands there is a lot here and it is not just in the normal areas which are the marketing side or the commercial side of things. They are actually doing everything from production through to marketing. So you have a bit more of a structure there,” she told Barbados TODAY in a recent interview.
“What I am seeing is, with all due respect to these ladies, they are aging. So what’s missing is young women moving into the agricultural field,” said Lowry, adding that a recent batch of about 35 students to graduate from the youth farm TVET programme “only a few” were females.
“So that I think is the issue, as opposed to am I seeing equal number of men and women? What I am seeing are warning flags that we have to do something to encourage more young people to get into agriculture,” added Lowry.
She said one of the ways to encourage more youth to get into careers within the sector was to introduce more modern forms of technology and provide training for the use of those systems.
“There is an opportunity just sitting there waiting for the Polytechnic or the BCC to pick it up, because the operators of these systems are not able to find people, currently, in Barbados who are capable of running those high-tech systems. It is not just pressing a button and showing up four hours later. This is basically computer-based technology that you have to be able to understand and how to operate it in temperature controls and humidity controls and all the rest of it,” explained Lowry.
“My understanding is that they are actually looking to places like Jamaica to bring in workers because you haven’t got the training here . . . . And the more young people get involved in agriculture the more high-tech it is going to be. So it is kind of a win-win,” she said.