Claudine Housen, Staff Reporter
Agricultural science students at the William Knibb High School, Tiffany Williams (left) and Griffin Gray (standing) review a text book with Monique Hepburn, The Gleaner's Western Bureau news editor following a Student Forum on Agriculture at the school. - CLAUDINE HOUSEN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
CITING gross misuse of resources in the local agricultural sector, students of the William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny are suggesting that greater public and private sector emphasis be placed on promoting efficiency and productivity.
MISUSE OF LAND
"One major problem that is contributing to the failure of agriculture is the misuse of land," said Tiffany Williams, an agricultural science student. "They are building houses on the flat, and leaving the hills, and I think that is a misuse of resources."
Another student Maurice Harding added that "the increase in population in Jamaica causes less agriculture production because more and more areas are being used to provide housing."
They were speaking during The Gleaner's Student Forum on Agriculture at the William Knibb Memorial High School, in Trelawny recently.
The students called on government and the private sector to focus on the long-term goals and not the quick fixes as there was still enough agricultural land to rejuvenate the ailing sector for future generations . They also want government to provide schools that have Agricultural Science programmes with more resources to enhance the learning experience and sustain interest among teens.
"In agriculture you should have a coop where you raise your chicken. You are supposed to have your little farm where you can go out and learn what to do we don't have that," lamented Shanique Coleman. "We don't have the experience and that is a part of why a lot of students do not get involved in it," she said.
The students also challenged the media to be more involved in disseminating information on agriculture and the government to allocate more resources to promote the subject among the youths.
"The media needs to pay closer attention to the Agricultural Science Syllabus in schools," said Jody-Ann Brown. "They can give us information on the different topics so that we can follow up by reading the paper. They can also provide us with information on Agricultural management in other countries and career options."
Roget Powell believes "people should endorse agriculture more, especially the government and the schools, so that the future for agriculture (can) be promising."
Young Brown said it was imperative for students to get past the demeaning stereotypes associated with farming. "A lot of persons think farming is just about digging up dirt," he said. "If the schools do more to inform the youth about agriculture they will see that it is not just about digging up dirt."
Sharing from her own experience Tiffany , an aspiring agri-production and food system manager, said they needed more 'educated' role models in the sector.
"We need more educated personnel to influence the younger ones and let them know what agriculture is really about because a student might grow up seeing his grandfather dig yam and cocoa out back and think that it all about dirt," she said. "(Like other students) I too did not consider Agriculture as a career until I started it in school and found out it was not only about dirt."
This was supported by her colleague Jody-Ann who pointed out that "next ten years maybe we won't even have anybody to work in the agriculture sector because the younger generation we don't want to go out there (in the field) to work," She added: "we are not going out there in the field to cut any cane the sun too hot, we don't even want to walk in it."