Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Agriculture is ours!

A CONCERTED effort must be made to change the image of farming and agriculture.

Word of this from Principal and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, who says there is a dislike for agriculture among a significant part of the population because of the history of labour degradation associated with slavery.

From left: Principal and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the UWI Cave
Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles; Merina Jessamy,
Permanent Secretary in the Grenada Ministry of Agricultural
Lands, Fisheries and Environment; and Minister of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry of Dominica, Matthew Walter, after the
signing of a MOU in support of the Centre for Food Security
and Entrepreneurship, an initiative of the Cave Hill campus.
“We know there is a lot of education that should go into that to turn that around. Because you should not, in fact, turn your back on what is yours because you had a bad experience with it.”

He was speaking during a Regional Conference on Cassava in the Caribbean and Latin America and Launch of the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship at the 3Ws Pavilion, where he made the point that the black people in the Caribbean were brought from Africa because they were good at agriculture.

“It wasn’t simply because they were units of labour; they had a long tradition of high-yield agriculture. So we have a population base that has a historic connection to high quality agriculture, yet we lament the relationships of the employment, but agriculture is ours.”

Sir Hilary stated that one role that the university has to play is to help to change the image of agriculture.

“You do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. We have to stay with our agriculture, our ancestral legacy. We modernise it, we apply all of the appropriate technologies to it as we have always done. We need in this university to produce graduates who are looking for career opportunities in agriculture. There are spaces available.”

He said the Faculty of Science and Technology is committed to developing an educational approach to agriculture that would make it attractive to a new generation of young people coming out of school with a different view of agriculture.

The principal explained that the development of a Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship is intended to develop a research centre of teaching and learning that would bridge academia with agribusiness and to participate as a university in the entrepreneurial aspect of that development.

He used the opportunity to express gratitude to the Edghill family, who has made 30 acres of prime agricultural land available to the Cave Hill Campus for the facility. “The philanthropy of the Edghill family is outstanding,” he said. (JH)

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