More emphasis will be placed on agro-processing as the government continues to develop youths’ entrepreneurial skills.
The Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Rural Agriculture (IFAD) and the Harvesting Investors Spreading Opportunities (PROCASAR) opened a workshop for the Learning Route Programme today. The two- day event is being held at the St. Paul’s Retreat, Vryheid’s Lust, East Coast Demerara.
Particpants and stakeholders of the two- day ‘Learning Route’ Workshop
Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment, Aubrey Norton said that agriculture will play an important role in youths’ entrepreneurial development. Norton noted that the Government of Guyana fully understands that while it can create employment there has to be a critical role for young people and that “more young people need to move towards their own businesses.”
Norton noted that one area that offers that opportunity is agriculture. He said that this is critical because the average age in agriculture is too high. He explained, “That it is good to have experience of age, but it is also necessary to have the youth for replenishment.”
Norton said that there needs to be a link between technology and agriculture. “We need to let young people know that technology can be applied to agriculture.”
FAO’s Technical Officer, Fransen Jean said that the event celebrates the collaboration with PROCASUR to bring and, build on workable and adoptable solutions to overcome challenges faced by youths. This, Jean explained, will be done whilst engaging in the agriculture and related industries, through the Learning Route methodology.
Jean pointed out that almost all Caribbean countries import more than 60 per cent of the food they consume, with half of them importing more than 80 per cent. The comparative advantage of Guyana, he noted puts young Guyanese in a very good position to substantially contribute to the Caribbean’s goals; which include: to reduce food importation, encourage intra-regional trade and promote the consumption of healthy food produced locally.
“The project, strengthening decent rural employment opportunities for young women and men in the Caribbean is a clear expression of the strong interest and commitment of FAO, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and its partners to assist in this endeavour,” Jean said.
PROCASUR’s Representative, Alda Berardinellli highlighted that the possibility for young people to develop agricultural and non- agricultural productive activities in their rural areas is central to them staying in their localities. This, it was explained, would ease their migration to the city and to the interior locations for more lucrative work.
Berardinellli said that the Learning Route is the first of its kind in Guyana and the project is designed and organised by the global Not for Profit Organisation, PROCASUR. She noted that the knowledge management initiative is implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment. It has received valuable inputs from institutions such as the Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), and the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN).
Berardinellli explained that during the “Rural Employment and Self- employment Initiatives and Opportunities” Learning Route participants will be able to learn from individual, collective, institutional and private experiences that have implemented good practices proven to be successful in contributing to improving the rural youth employment situation and developing entrepreneurial opportunities in rural territories.
Some of the participants spoke with the Government Information Agency (GINA) about their expectations from the workshop. Kerry Torres from Region One said, “I am expecting to gain knowledge from my other colleagues and to share my experience about my ginger farm back home. I want to be able to move from level to level in the farm.”
Jubason Bess from Region Six said, “My expectations for the Guyana Learning Route would be to gain a wealth of knowledge, to share my experience as a young entrepreneur, to maybe create possible partners, and to just have fun and to let people know about my business.”
Coretta Huston from Region Ten said, “I am representing Linden Youth Leaders and my expectation of this Learning Route is to gain knowledge from the case studies that we are about to visit and also from the participants from the programme and also share the knowledge that I have with them. What this organisation does is trying to train the minds of youth towards agriculture.”
The programme started in 2015 when the executive board of IFAD approved US$1.8M for employment opportunities for Caribbean youths.