Agriculture for youths

first_imgWell, if this is October, it has to be ‘Agriculture Month’. I wonder when those titbits from Primary School – along with wondering what’s the “theme” – will fade away! But my thoughts still also inevitably wander to the five years of Agricultural Science I’d persevered through high school. People might look at me or any of my peers and think, ‘What could a bunch of kids possibly know about agriculture?’If the truth be told, we know more than a thing or two. You’d be surprised at the excruciatingly detailed agricultural minutiae we had to absorb. We know the exact spacing for planting bora; we know the signs when a cow may be ailing – and a great deal about keeping the books to ensure the farm is sustainable. We even have hands-on experience – literally! We’ve planted the aforementioned bora, we’ve planted ochro and we’ve even raised and plucked chickens (Not for the queasy stomach!).But the problem is that all that slogging away and hours of tedious work in our Agri plot is really for naught. None of us are really planning to pursue careers in Agriculture. And I don’t think the home garden I plan for my backyard in the future is what the Ministry had in mind when they placed Agri on our curriculum. Or was it?But I do think that’s so because no one from the agricultural sector ever really come in to Queens to talk to us, to get us all hyped up about a career in agriculture. We’ve had doctors, lawyers, medical transcriptionists, but no horticulturalists, no biological engineers.And in everyday life, we go to the doctors to get a check-up, we go to the bank to deposit money, we pass policepeople on the road on our way to work or school. We have a good idea of what exactly these jobs entail; we get inspired to choose one of these careers. I’ve never met a genetic engineer, but I’m sure that the things they do have to be pretty exciting – I mean, experimenting with plants at the genetic level, creating totally new varieties of plants!But I’ve never really entertained any thoughts about being a genetic engineer in botany. I’ve never entertained any thoughts outside of medicine, actually. I’ve met loads of doctors; I like their job, so I’m going into medicine.So I’d suggest there needs to be some system in place to get kids more aware about the possible careers Agriculture has to offer. After all, agriculture is our “comparative advantage” and unless we succeed here, we really have failed. For instance, now that it looks like we’re getting out of sugar…bright young people with solid grounding in modern agriculture could finally make Guyana the “breadbasket of the Caribbean”.Yes, there’s a little section in the syllabus that deals with that, but those careers are basically just words in a textbook. We need to have people in these Agricultural careers come in and talk to us about what they do, about what their jobs entail, so that we can see that they’re real people and these are real careers that we can think about pursuing.Because we can have all the doctors, lawyers and economists in the world, but they won’t be of any use if we’re not producing food: we’ll just all starve to death.My analogy is a bit drastic, I know, but we do have a bit of a problem. For a country whose comparative advantage is agriculture, not enough kids are thinking about agriculture as careers. Suddenly we’re hearing about mega farms (funded by T&T) but those operations need more skills and knowledge than wielding a cutlass. And those skills are being allowed to wither on the vine (pun intended) in youths.So maybe, we’ll now see some agronomists on ‘career day’?last_img read more