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Young people with an interest in the agriculture sector will now benefit from support from the government, along with international partners as greater emphasis is being placed on the participation of youths in agricultural development.

In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Office of the Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment today launched a project titled “Strengthening Decent Rural Employment Opportunities for Young Women and Men in the Caribbean”.

The regional project is aimed at creating greater involvement and capacity building for youths in the sector. The launching ceremony was followed by a working session with stakeholders to develop a National Action Plan for Guyana which is expected to be implemented as a part of the project.

Speaking at the ceremony at the Agriculture Ministry, Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry, George Jervis pointed out that United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council will soon be hosting a forum in New York under the theme ”Implementing post- 2015 development agenda, moving from commitments to results”. Guyana will be addressing the topic of youth employment and entrepreneurship at that forum.

He added that this forum is in line with the launch of today’s initiative since they both seek to address youth employment and entrepreneurship in agriculture. He explained that a small section of youths was mobilised to engage in discussions to foster knowledge building and to better inform the National Action Plan for this project. He praised the concept of the project by saying, “I am pleased with the design and components of project…(because) it seeks to address many of the key problems young people are facing in the sector.”

Further, PS Jervis pointed out that the government is committed to sustaining food security while simultaneously tackling youth unemployment. The Ministry of Agriculture will support the achievement of the project’s goal as it undertakes youth development and employment, he added.

In addition, he urged that agriculture must be viewed as a profitable business and not only be done for subsistence. It’s one of many similar projects that government is planning for the development of youths, he stated.

Meanwhile FAO’s Country Representative, Reuben Robertson highlighted that young people have a significant role to play in achieving food security around the world. He pointed out that agriculture is declining in almost every country in the South American Region, which has been borne out through studies and reports carried out by UN.

There is a rural-urban shift, and young people are moving away from agriculture which has contributed to the increasing incidence of poverty in the Region, he stated. The Country Representative pointed out that the government, along with international bodies has a critical role to play in curbing this issue. This includes providing incentives, favourable working conditions, along with adequate training to groom youths in agriculture.

The beneficiaries of this programme will be trained within the enterprises identified and in areas of their choice.  In addition, they will be able to build capacity in management, as well as be engaged in enterprise developments, as groups or individuals.

Persons are using more imported food which has led to increasing incidents of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) with the Caribbean food import bill being approximately $4.5B.

The average age of farmers is 60 years and studies show most families have now  educated their children outside of agriculture.

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