Youth and Agriculture – Engaging young children and youths in the development of agriculture.

In many countries around the world, especially here in the Caribbean. If you were to ask a young person what they wish to become or what they wish for their future, very few will mention agriculture. Whether as a farmer, labourer, vendor, researcher, or extension officer, the production of food tends to be a last resort and not the positive choice of any ambitious young man or woman.

This of course raises a fundamental question, “Who will grow the crop to feed the world?”  For when the older heads die out, who will take over the mantle and continue to cultivate the land, for there can only be one answer, the young people, for the crops cannot grow all by themselves, they have to planted, and by whom, but the young people.

So in every real sense of the way, our ultimate survival and that of other generations to follow. It solely depends on making agriculture more attractive and finding ways of engaging youths and even the younger children in shaping the future of agriculture – by letting it be a compulsory teaching mechanism and learning experience for the youths from primary school stage straight up to university level and even on the job training workshops, and even having virtual and visual programs can making agriculture more interesting, enlightening, educational, fun and above it all, worthwhile.

In order for youths, who are the future leaders of tomorrow to truly love agriculture and work towards a greater sustainable development in the agriculture industry, we must start at the ground level –  the primary school level.

At the primary school level, the young children can develop a love for agriculture, by teaching them about the different crops, seedlings, about planting, caring, reaping and harvesting of crops, even how to start their own school garden and split them up into groups, where each week a different group gets to take care of the garden. You can also have them adopt-a-garden, by turning a vacant lot in the community into a garden, if the school does not have enough land space to accommodate one; not forgetting livestock, caring and rearing of animals, and other relevant information which are basic and easier for them to understand and accept, thereby they will get a greater understanding, knowledge and experience, as well as acceptance of agriculture and it will be a great learning experience for them, that most of them will want to go home and ask their parents or guardian, if they can start their own backyard garden with their parents or guardian supervision.

In high school, just like how Mathematics and English are compulsory, so too is learning a foreign language – Agriculture Science, should also be compulsory, because everyone needs to eat and so learning more about agriculture and everything associated with the agriculture industry, including career guidance in agriculture is totally important in letting them become more aware of the opportunities there are in the agriculture industry and also it heightened their awareness and let them volunteer with various non profit organizations associated with the agriculture industry.

They can start adopt-a-farmer or adopt-a-farm project, or do internships on a farm or agriculture estate on their summer vacation or as an after school project, thus giving them an on-the-job-training experience.  After graduation, since not everyone will be going off to college after high school. Some may have to look for a job right after high school, to help out at home and also to provide for themselves; as well as some will want to start their own business and agriculture may just be the greatest career opportunity for them, and others may seek to start their own business in other professions such as hair dressing and barbering, pastry making, store owner and more; and all will have to prepare a business plan; while others prepare for entrance into college and university…..

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