By Shirley Thomas
AS the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) prepares for yet another graduation in Agricultural Machinery in October, the programme has moved to another level, this time incorporating the construction of shade houses and affording the students another valuable skill with which to graduate.
Speaking with the Pepperpot Magazine last Tuesday, Agricultural Machinery Lecturer, Dinesh Roopnarine, excited at the very thought of what the project is likely to yield, exclaimed: “We see the Shade House as a big plus for us. It is a pilot project and the only shade house of this size constructed on campus by both students and staff in the Caribbean.”
He outlined that the New Amsterdam Technical Institute offers a Craft Certificate in Agricultural Machinery, where the focus is on the agricultural component of agricultural mechanics. There, the students are exposed to dealing with heavy equipment such as tractors, the plough, and whatever comes under the Agricultural Machinery programme. And since this is all animal husbandry, that is where the Shade House Project comes in, Roopnarine said.
Noting that shade houses promise to be the wave of the future, Roopnarine outlined that within the school’s compound there is a 30’ x 60’ steel structure which is already nearing completion.
“We try to not teach them agriculture machinery skills only. We expose them to the science department, where they are involved in soil testing; Business – both practical and theory,” he said, adding that most of the practical work is being done by the agricultural machinery department.
“We insist that they must be well-rounded. We do not want them to be involved in just mechanics. They should be able to take care of the farm; plant; [tend to] animals; shed for storing; build fences; work in the welding department,” he said.
Roopnarine pointed out that the Shade House Project is funded mainly by the Canadian Chapter of the Alumni Association of the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI). He speculated that once the programme gets going in a big way as anticipated, utilising the combined efforts of the students and staff, the Shade House Project can turn out to be an income generator, which can see money being pumped back into the programme for development of the school.
Asked what is the students’ perception of the programme and what is their response to the programme overall, Principal Mavene Thompson said: “The response is good so far. They love the programme; they’re passionate about it and very enthusiastic.”
On completion of their studies in Agriculture Mechanics, the principal said, the students would move on to the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) where they pursue Agricultural Science. “I think it’s because of an intrinsic passion they would have generated for crop husbandry while here, and so they move on to another level — the Guyana School of Agriculture — and pursue a Diploma in Agricultural Science,” the principal said.
Meanwhile, heartened by the students’ response to the programme, Roopnarine explained that the programme does not capture only the Agricultural Machinery subjects, but the sciences as well, since they have an active science department.
Construction of the shade house commenced around September 2018 in a very spacious environment , where there is adequate space for another project. So far, the cultivation of citrus has been identified, the lecturer said.
The agricultural machinery programme has 20 students – 19 boys and one girl.