Students urged to take up agriculture at agri open day

As agriculture month activities continue, agencies within the sector including the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), the Guyana Livestock Development authority (GLDA), and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) hosted an ‘open day’ and exhibition at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, on Wednesday.

The event aimed to highlight opportunities available in the sector for young persons. Students had the opportunity to tour the spaces and booths of the agencies.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, during his address at the open day

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, addressing the gathering at NAREI, reiterated that agriculture is one of the most important sectors.

“I’m very happy and elated to see so many young people here and this augurs well for us in the agriculture sector. I hope when you leave here today, you leave here to go into the agriculture sector.”

Minister Mustapha watering a coconut plant at NAREI

He told students that getting involved in the sector will transform their future since it has a diverse range of job alternatives available. The inclusion of young people in the sector will help them to understand the importance of agriculture to Guyana’s development. 

The minister referred to President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s efforts to grow and consolidate traditional crops by involving young people in agriculture.

Students being engaged by Senior Plant Protection Officer at NAREI, Adele Pierre

These crops include carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli.

“But I hope that when you go around, you will look at the various aspects of agriculture, and you will find yourself involved and be interested in this important sector, so, all of us can prepare for food security,” the minister noted.

Minister Mustapha highlighted that with climate change, the ministry remains committed to developing the sector by practicing climate-smart agriculture.

Special Projects Unit team at NAREI

“Over the last years, we have seen the people who are involved in agriculture, are of a mature age. And we will have to prepare you to take charge of this important sector,” Minister Mustapha told the students.  

To ensure students have the necessary faculties to conduct School Based Assessments (SBAs) and other activities in schools, Minister Mustapha said, I will encourage the CEO of NAREI to ensure that they should ensure that these schools who are here today, we have a vibrant agriculture sector. So, those departments who are here this morning, I want to assure you that NAREI will work with your schools to develop the agricultural sector in your schools…We will develop the crop section and poultry sections so we can help the school get back into agriculture and develop the interest of all young people back into the agriculture sector.”

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of NAREI and his team

Meanwhile, Research Scientist at NAREI, Devwattie Dass said, “I think it is a good opportunity especially because of how they are studying agricultural science in that stream there. So, I think it is a good experience for them. So, they are seeing the real crops live or what they look like.”

She added that the open day is educational and inspiring for students and persons who may be thinking about a future in the agricultural sector.

Ricardo Mahase, from the Special Projects Unit at NAREI, noted that, “I think it is beneficial because it can advise students that they can have their kitchen gardens, expand it into a business. Because turmeric and ginger are species that everybody needs in cooking.”

One of the displays at the open day and exhibition at NAREI

J.C. Chandisingh Secondary, School of the Nations, Annandale Secondary, Bladen Hall Secondary, Apex Academy, Leonora Secondary, and Tucville Secondary were among the schools at the activity.

Agriculture month is being observed under the theme ‘Championing food security through innovation, investment, and resilience.’

Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Jagnarine Singh, Director General at the agriculture ministry, Madanlall Ramraj, Technical Advisor at the agriculture ministry, Aditya Persaud, and other heads of agencies also attended the exhibition.