The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) programme is now online.
Head of the programme Dr. Jamekal Andwele, said the COVID-19 pandemic, space allocation and the guidelines of the protocols, set up to deal with the virus, had caused them to go online.
According to the FEED programme head, the programme, which consists of three main components; training, allocation of lands and marketing, had been impacted by the pandemic, causing the trainers to move to the online platform, but with reduced numbers.
In the beginning, Dr. Andwele said, over 100 persons had been involved in the training at two locations; the BADMC at Fairy Valley, Christ Church and the other at the Ministry of Agriculture.
However, as a result of the pandemic and with limited space, the online platform was implemented on which the course material is uploaded and accessed by the participants.
At the end of the training sessions, Dr, Andwele said short quizzes would be conducted, during which the participants could test themselves on the instructions they were given and if not certain, could return to the videos and conclude their online training.
“As long as the participants have completed their theoretical training online and placed on lands, they will undergo smaller practical training sessions in an open environment, in groups of about ten or 15, for outdoor training sessions and along with their trainers fine-tune their practical skills”, Andwele noted.
The programme was started in 2019 and includes open field cultivation, temperature controlled container farming, apiculture, animal husbandry, hydroponics, aquaculture, Blackbelly sheep rearing and fish-farming.
It is a three-year programme conceptualised by Minister of Agriculture
and Food Security, Indar Weir, and his team at the ministry.
“We are trying to bring new agriculturalists and new farmers into production, increasing national food production, looking at food security as well as looking to lower the food import bill and the programme is going well despite the impact of COVID-19,” Dr. Andwele noted.
The initial training group was made up of about 238 persons and training will be completed by the end of this month after which the participants will be allocated land, making room for the next group which is expected to be bigger.
“They will be taught the basics skills critical to running an effective farming operation, business planning, customer service, record-keeping as well as sales and marketing,” the FEED head added. (TT)