Last weekend at Agrofest, children and students alike were treated to an opportunity to pet rabbits and learn more about their new furry friends.
It may seem like nothing to some, but for the students enrolled in the NVQ in Agriculture Entrepreneurship Level One programme, it was part of their business venture.
CEO of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation Celeste Foster told Barbados TODAY five schools are represented in the project, namely Daryll Jordan, the Alleyne School, St Leonard’s, Ellerslie, and Grantley Adams Memorial School.
“They started last February and they went through the first half of the programme. It’s where they learnt about things like crop production, amenity horticulture, livestock rearing, health and safety, pest control, and then in September they actually started the business side of it,” she explained.
They also received additional experience through work attachments last summer.
“Some of them went to a vet, some went to poultry production farms, some went to organic nurseries, some went to plant nurseries, and we had some who [were involved in] a farm to table [operation].”
For this year’s Agrofest the students had a chance to put the business and practical aspects of their training to practice.
“They were required to do a business model canvas. Now what the business model canvas is, it has nine areas. And you have to look at what your inputs are, what your customer streams, your customer requirements, your activities, your costs and if you would make a profit.
“They were interested in rabbits but they were trying to decide if it is rabbits as a products, meaning to sell the rabbits, or rabbits as for the petting,” she said.
In the end, they put it to a vote, and the petting project was the more popular choice.
“So what they did now, is that nobody raised rabbits in the group, they rented the rabbits but they negotiated the rental of the rabbits for this activity.
“And we’ve had some ups and downs. On Saturday morning we came and one of the rabbits had died. And then another rabbit was pregnant and then that mother rabbit died this morning. But we came and we had five new rabbits. And they had to interact to bury the rabbits – they had to interact with the officials at Agrofest; they were responsible for making sure they were disposed of; they had to contact the owner again, so they had to really get involved at that level,” Foster said.
She added that despite the challenges the students are proud of their business.
“They found a lot of information about rabbits, so that’s what they’re sharing with the young people. So as they pet the rabbits they’re telling them about that type of rabbit it is, how long it lives, and for the older folks they’re sharing the nutritional value of rabbit meat, because rabbit meat has six grammes more protein than chicken, it’s lower in fat and it’s higher in iron,” Foster explained.
For student Chad Slater, working on the rabbit project has been a fulfilling experience.
“We learnt team work and so much more about now people around here got their [into] agriculture. It taught us about more about rabbits and plants,” he said.
Parent Adrian Pinder was equally proud of the students.
“Seeing the programme and how the children developed . . . this was their work from scratch. It was really just interesting to see how they executed it. And I almost cried today when I heard they broke even,” he said.
Foster said the programme was part of overall efforts to get youth involved in agriculture.
“When you think of agriculture you don’t necessarily think of this, but this is agriculture too,” Foster said.