Chief Agricultural Officer Lennox Chandler today called for Barbadians to develop a new mindset about the agriculture and end the stigma attached to those who opt to work in the sector.
As he delived the feature address to graduating students of the Samuel Jackman Presod Institute of Technology who completed the course in Protective Agriculture training, Chandler said there was a preconcieved notion that only certain types of people chose agriculture as a career.
“I was having a discussion with a person who came in here [the Ministry of Agriculture] who [said] that they should open an agricultural school at St George Secondary for only ‘certain children’ to become involved in practical agriculture,” he said, adding that this perspective should not be imposed on youth.
“… [if] that is the kind of notion that people want to [foster] in Barbados … where only certain classes of people should be relegated to farming and agriculture, then we have a serious problem,” he said.
Chandler said that he was not in support of forcing children from certain social strata to become involved in agriculture, especially by those who themselves are not involved in the industry.
“I am not in support of any attempt to conscript the children of certain classes of people into agriculture; while the children of those who are calling for these things are doctors, accountants [and] have MBA’s. They are not involved in agriculture. If you ask them what [their] son or daughter [is] doing, it is nothing to do with agriculture. So, I will not be a part of that course at all. The calls are coming from those who do not have the capacity to function in another area to go into agriculture,” he stressed.
Despite his strong reservations, Chandler applauded the thirteen students who have successfully completed the Protective Agriculture Training Project for choosing to study agriculture or agricultural science.
“At the same time, [for] all the young people who are interested and who come into agriculture for your own volition then the Ministry, the Government of Barbados will put things in place to support you and encourage you to be successful,” he said, advising the students to enter agriculture only if it is something that they want to do.
“It is a vocation. It is not something that anyone is forcing on you. Again I want to commend the young people [to] keep at it. [If it] is something you want to do, then you should pursue it,” he said.
At the end of the short graduation ceremony, 13 students received certificates from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Drainage and Water Resource Management, Andrew Gittens. They were: Shaquille Knight, Kevon Harding, Dimitri Mottley, Andrea Mottley, Mikael McFarlane, Michael McFarlane, Julian Riveria, Ocean Ashby, Tachina Jordan, Tianna Trotman, Fern Belgrave, Beverley Toppin and Renaldo Walcott. (LG)