Over the years there has been growing concern about the sustainability and survival of the agricultural sector in Saint Lucia with fewer young people taking up the profession.
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Social Security, Dr Kenny D. Anthony, believes that the “Agri-Enterprise Youth Programme” is a very important investment in the nation’s youth and the economic well-being of the country.
He explains that while traditional farming tools like pitch forks and pickaxes can still get the job done, the youth will be encouraged to work using smarter and more efficient practices.
“Farm equipment will be acquired to encourage mechanised production where possible. The plan is to train these young farmers to apply the latest technologies to enhance production. The net impact should be the repositioning of our human capital and capacity and I welcome in particular the emphasis on technology adaptation,” he said.
Government has listed access to adequate land for agricultural development as an area of concern in providing support to the “Agri-Enterprise Youth Programme.” Prime Minister Anthony has guaranteed that suitable Crown lands will be used to support the new vision for agriculture.
“Government will also take steps to establish the long championed land bank to hold our agricultural resources in trust for future generations. This Youth Empowerment Programme necessitates a strong partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Skills Development Center and might I also suggest the Division of Agriculture of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. It is the hope that this programme will create sustainable livelihoods in our rural communities while improving reliability of production particularly for export and domestic use in the hotel sector,” the prime minister added.
A total of 150 young Saint Lucians will receive training and support under the “Agri-Enterprise Youth Programme.”
The prime minister said the aim is to mold a new cadre of agri-entrepreneurs.