Youths must be involved in agriculture – First Lady

─ at CARICOM Youth in Agriculture Dialogue

First Lady, H.E. Arya Ali is of the view that youths should be involved in decision making so that they can contribute to solutions that can lend to the development of agriculture nationally, and regionally.

The First Lady was today, delivering the keynote address at the CARICOM Youth in Agriculture Dialogue which forms part of the ongoing Agri-Investment Forum and Expo.

First Lady, Mrs. Arya Ali during her address at the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo on Saturday

Young people from numerous secondary schools across the country, and the Guyana School of Agriculture gathered at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre for the event.

“This dialogue on CARICOM youth in agriculture provides a platform for us to not only discuss, but also to explore solutions to help transform our regional agriculture sector to foster increased productivity and sustainability.

“Leaders, we must continue to recognise the importance of youth in the sector, and the important roles they play and can play in boosting regional agricultural development, and the transformation of our agri-food systems,” the First Lady said.

Mrs. Ali highlighted that over the years, young people have moved away from agriculture for a number of reasons, one of them being that agriculture is only for a certain class of people. However, she stressed that it is critical that leaders do everything they can to change the minds of young people and show them the benefits of being involved in agriculture.

“Transforming the way youth view and engage in the agricultural sector is key to significantly increasing employment, improving livelihoods, and building rural economies that expand in step with fast-growing urban communities.

“Regional leaders in agriculture therefore, have a critical job to stimulate the interests of our youths in agriculture by making agriculture an attractive sector for youths,” the First Lady said.

It was pointed out that President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, understanding the importance of young people in agriculture, launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme to bolster the agriculture sector, empower youths and create jobs.

Through this programme, young people who graduated in the field of agriculture are afforded the opportunity to plant high-value crops such as broccoli and cauliflower using shade houses.

The First Lady noted that it is part of Guyana’s commitment to contribute to reducing CARICOM’S food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett

Meanwhile, CARICOM’s Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett made it known to the young people that the region needs them, and that they are needed now to develop the region’s agricultural capacity.

“The ability to feed ourselves and to do so nutritiously is one which determines in large measure what kind of future we will have as a people ensuring our food nutrition are critical component of building resilience in CARICOM.”

“Your immediate involvement and action is integral to how this community can achieve the goal of ensuring it’s food and nutrition security is secured in the future.”

Dr. Barnett said with the technology that is now available in the field of agriculture, young people should take advantage. Agriculture she emphasised, goes way beyond just farming as it provides a wide variety of employment opportunities.

“There are almost 20 million direct and indirect jobs that are related to agriculture across the globe. It lends itself to self-employment and becoming your own boss. With the correct planning, support and effort you can reap rewards in a reasonable time frame.

Some of the students at the forum hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Saturday

“Your country, your region, CARICOM is calling on you. This is your time to contribute. There is a time in our history we thought that in order to find prosperity for ourselves we needed to move outside of the region, that is no longer the case, we no longer have to think that way. We know that economic opportunity, economic prosperity is right here and your role in agriculture is one of massive possibilities,” the Secretary General stated.

The Agri-Investment Forum and Expo is the first of its kind to be held in the country and has the presence of several CARICOM Heads of Government and international investors.

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