Secondary school students upgrade agriculture skills at OAS-funded workshop

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Dr Leslie Ramsammy addresses participants at the OAS funded workshop on organic, hydroponic and hybrid-system  agriculture

STUDENTS from a number of secondary schools are currently the beneficiaries  of a workshop/training program on organic, hydroponic and hybrid-system  agriculture  funded for Guyana   by the Organisation of American States (OAS).The program is titled: “The provisions: Organic, Hydroponic and Hybrid System growing for Caribbean Schools and model for local Caribbean Entrepreneurship,” and  is being implemented  by the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College of Education of St Kitts Nevis  in collaboration  with the Government of Guyana (GOG) through the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute

 Students of Beterverwagting Secondary school examining vegetables at the hydroponic facilities at NAREI
Students of Beterverwagting Secondary school examining vegetables at the hydroponic facilities at NAREI

(NAREI)
Guyana is one of five Caribbean countries participating in the project,  others being  St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados,  Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago.

The visiting resource persons from St Kitts Nevis  are Project Manager Dr. Leighton Narine,  Expert  Mr Stuart La Place  and Project Public Relations Officer (PRO)  Mr. Andre Huie.
The   venue is NAREI facilities at Mon Repos East Coast Demerara.
NAREI  constructed the  hydroponics and organoponics  facilities being used by the resource persons and participants.
Officials disclosed that the workshop is part of an effort by the OAS  to  provide  effective training, skills and tools to schools, farmers, extension officers and underprivileged groupings in these relatively new areas of agricultural production within the Caribbean Region.
The  local students participating  are drawn from schools on the  lower East Coast Demerara and the West Coast of Demerara including  President’s College, the Beterverwagting Secondary School, an educational institution  from  Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara  and the Joshua House Institute, among others.

The five-day workshop  was launched on Monday last in the Boardroom of the Guyana School of Agriculture .The opening ceremony was attended by and Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy, OAS Representative to Guyana,   Mr Jean Ricot Dormeus, Chief Executive Officer of NAREI Dr. Oudho Homenauth,the  visiting resource persons from St Kitts Nevis   as well as  the  secondary school students,  staff and students of the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), technicians from NAREI and several senior agricultural officers.
In a feature address, Minister Ramsammy traced the evolution of agriculture in Guyana from one of subsistence farming to one of a highly lucrative business bolstered by  ever growing science and technology.
He stressed that agriculture has the potential to move Guyana from a middle income country to a developed country.
He urged  the participants to embrace  the technological advances in  agriculture and by this means  transform the activity into a money making business   while at the same time making a tangible contribution  to food security in Guyana and the wider Caribbean community.

Some of the youthful participants at the opening of the OAS funded workshop on organic, hydroponic and hybrid-system  agriculture
Some of the youthful participants at the opening of the OAS funded workshop on organic, hydroponic and hybrid-system  agriculture

Dr Narine said that the project is also expected to produce educational resource material and curriculum for use in Caribbean schools, particularly those focused on technical and vocational training. It is designed to be easily replicated in any country context.

Mr Dormeus said that the concept of the workshop  began as student-based research on sustainable agriculture within the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) program.

It grew into a project concept that was submitted to the Development Cooperation Fund of the OAS in November 2011.
It was tested through faculty and student-led community outreach in St. Kitts-Nevis and refined to a streamlined set of outputs and activities following peer review from OAS evaluators.
He  pledged the continued  commitment of the OAS to  sustainable development and prosperity with equity assuring that   the  Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI)  will   continue to support member states in this regard.