Agri-Entrepreneurship Program to continue

By Geraldine Bicette-Joseph, GIS

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GIS – The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives, Hon. Ezechiel Joseph, has highlighted the need for young people to get more involved in the agriculture sector.

Referencing the Youth Agri-Entrepreneurship Program, Minister Joseph commented that for the sector to thrive, the youth need to play a part in its future.

“There are a number of crops that we can grow if we provide support to our farmers, and if we provide the infrastructure to support them like marketing and technical advice,” he said. “We can do it and for us to be able to accomplish this we need people that we can train. That is where the youth play an important role.”

The Minister said the Youth Agri-Entrepreneurship Program started with an aim to make use of dormant, but prime agricultural land.

“The project started with government lands. I identified four or five areas that were ideal for agriculture. Phase 2 of the project would have been private lands where you have farmers who have reached an age where they no longer wish to be cultivating and their children are not interested in agriculture.

Instead of looking at sectors outside of agriculture the intention was to lease these lands from these individuals and lease it to persons inside the respective communities that are interested in agriculture. It is something that we are going to continue because we have to and I want to emphasize that we have to. We need to bring new blood into agriculture and it is a program that I would continue.”

Minister Joseph said the next step is to meet with the youth to discuss and address the challenges that they face.


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  1. First of all, does the majority of youths want to be involved in agriculture?

    When this was first introduced, what was the response rate? Were they committed?
    Were the right persons selected? Was this program successful?

    And is there any such programs for persons who fall outside of what we define as youth?
    What do the youths in our country typically gravitate towards (is it the 9-5)? How can you make the agricultural sector more enticing to persons.
    While the minister is saying they need new blood and I quite agree, I don't think much is being done to sensitize the youths and the public on the many possibilities which exist in agriculture.

    I think we need to understand the mindset of St. Lucian youth and determine where exactly their interest lies, how we can make agriculture more attractive (some persons might think that being in agriculture means going in a field to work) whether more positives might be derived if such avenues is also available for those persons who are not classified as youths.


    • I agree that we need to understand the mindset of the youth and find ways to make agriculture more appealing to them. Agriculture is highly Stigmatized in this small island to the point that even farmers look down on the sector, which is why back in the day they would ensure that their children did not become farmers and if they were too poor their favourites or most capable would become lawyers and doctors while the others would stay back to help with the farm work.

      In order to move forward and ensure success they must understand the nature of agriculture and issues that perpetuate the stigma. This will allow the authorities to educate and train the young people thus allowing them to select those best suited for taking on this challenge.

      However, I also believe that older people should be given an opportunity as-well since many have the experience and grit to increase the chances of success.


  2. Blah. Blah. Blah.

    There a young people who are already into agriculture, and are under-supported. We bear all costs, losses and have to navigate the unstructured market. When the Ministry of Agriculture has supplies, no transparent criteria are used for distribution.

    The greatest challenge to agriculture/food-sustainability in St. Lucia is not access to land (People are abandoning farmland) . These are the real issues: 1. Lack of evidence-based based policies and programs for training and support in best practices , 2. No Market research and structuring, and 3. Need for provision of competent and reliable technical assistance.

    If we have more farmers and no frameworks, we will still end up with gluts, dearths and other supply-demand mismatches. More young people will be attracted to farming when problem issues are addressed i.e. if the MoA just did its job.

    The deficits have been seen in both governments. So, until the real issues are being addressed, I don't want to hear anything from the MoA.


  3. We all talk about young people going into farming. We needed to stop the talking and do the walking. There is little or not support when it comes to selling after a farmer has worked hard on growing a crop. I have been there and it IS not promising. STOP TAKING AND START WORKING PLEASE!!!!!!!!


  4. I believe that the well-intentioned minister is putting right now, the cart before the horse.

    Before we commit to producing anything, we must not assume that there is going to be a market for the product or output we are going to produce. We must be perfectly clear and sure about who are customers are, where they are and how much they are going to buy.

    Without customers there is no business.

    We should not seem to have simply as the target of the ministry, the placement of idle lands into agriculture for the sake of just doing "something". Land preparation is a sunken cost.

    Moreover, agricultural products or produce tend to have a limited "shelf life". This calls for storage considerations to be on the table front and centre of this new thrust.

    Agricultural products sometimes take a very long time to maturity. There is a gestation period that be ignored -- but only at your peril. Some can take as many as seven (7) years to maturity.

    Meanwhile, farm inputs have to paid for, for example, irrigation, pesticides, and of course seeds -- before reaping any type of income from effort.

    Sadly, we are still going down a very frustrating blind alley when we try to involve youth in a production stream, where the value added is collected by those higher up in the food or product supply chain.

    It is time to get off the plantation type thinking of yesteryear and get the young to train in agricultural production with: a) cooperatives, b) brand label marketing, and c) export marketing.

    We need the foreign exchange to compensate -- at least -- for all the burdensome interest debt payments that have been incurred for "sweet nothing" national loan obligations. Our Rochamels, Black Bay Lands, and Grynberg investments, so-called come to mind.


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