The head of the island’s leading agricultural association is calling for more youth participation in Barbados’ agricultural sector.
CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul stated that greater youth involvement in the sector was critical for the island to achieve food sustainability and security.
Paul was speaking at the BAS, The Grotto, St Michael headquarters, for the presentation ceremony for Agrofest 2019 Culinary Challenge winners. The competition which was held on February 22 included students from private and public schools.
During his feature address, Paul suggested that attaining food security was dependent on future generations of Barbadians. “We need to push the agricultural section. We need to get youth to understand that there is a connection between the food that you eat and how you prepare it and how it is grown,” Paul said.
Paul urged the students in attendance not to be deterred by talks on “how expensive it is to eat healthily”. He indicated that some farmers were advertising their produce at low prices and “literally giving them away” because no one was buying local produce.
“I want to encourage you as young people who are involved in agriculture [not to] listen to the hype all the time because the persons who are saying the hype, are the persons who would like you to buy the expensive produce because it suits them. But you can do so much more at home on your own,” he stated.
While reminding the students of the Agrofest 2019 slogan Full We Pocket, Eat Local!, the BAS CEO encouraged the students to partake in small scale farming which would contribute to feeding their families and wider society.
“You can actually broaden the role that you play and keep yourself healthy as you grow up,” he stressed.
Paul announced that for AgroFest 2019, the BAS was looking to develop “a cadre of Agrofest teachers”, to conduct agricultural workshops to encourage students to get involved in the sector.
“You need to get children to buy into [Agrofest] because they need to appreciate the importance of helping to feed themselves and [being] involved in the food preparation process from a very early age,” the BAS CEO declared.