The Ministry of Agriculture is continuing to place emphasis on the development of agriculture among the youth of Dominica.
According to the Hon Minster for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Reginald Austrie the Ministry will be putting into place additional measures to reinforce some of the programs in the school as well as implement new programs.
Hon. Austrie was speaking at a ceremony on February 11, where the Ministry of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of Junior Achievement Agricultural Program being implemented in nine primary schools across the island.
One of the strategic placements is the appointment of an extension officer to work along the Junior Achievers Program for development of the Grow Project.
“One of the things that the ministry is seeking to do, is to have a full time dedicated extension officer to work with the Junior Achievers Program. And not only extension in terms of on the field activity but also in terms of the teaching and the sharing of the agricultural knowledge, and I am hoping that very shortly we can move and that person will be dedicated to running that program parallel and in collaboration with the Junior Achievers Program.”
A key step to be undertaken by the ministry is also the implementation of agriculture a subject in the curriculum of the primary schools.
For this, the minster says the ministry will channel the necessary resources.
“We’ll facilitate and channel the resources, financial and otherwise through a formal partnership that may exist on the ground. We’ll consult with the Junior Achievers of Dominica and other stakeholders to adopt agro-entrepreneurship, education and agricultural curriculum and material to suit the local-cultural context. We’ll be recruiting volunteers both from inside and outside of the country, to assist in tailoring that program to be a national program. We’re also hoping it will be formally accepted as part of the school’s curriculum. We’re going to have periods of agricultural education both theoretical and practical as part of your subject matter and whatever literature is required we’re going to ensure that we can really put that on our national agenda.”
The initial financial investment from the Ministry of Agriculture into this is a sum of $70K, aside from the human resource and other resources being made available.
Furthermore, the minister shared that the hope is to ensure the school feeding programs becomes sustainable through the provisions of fresh produce grown from the farming programs being implemented in the primary schools.
“We also want to work with the schools feeding program, because we believe that you can create even a greater impression if you have the students producing their own food and consuming their own food. And so, we’re going to be focused largely on the provision of fresh vegetables for the school’s feeding program. Of course it will be done at a cost and that will give the junior achievers the opportunity to do some fund raising. Not the $10 a head of lettuce like they have in the market but children prices… so we’ll institute the children’s prices for that particular program.”
Hon. Austrie shared that the negative notions created long ago on the importance and image of farmers, must be dispelled if the sector is to move forward and young persons are to become interested in the vocation.