Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings says youths are interested in farming, given that his ministry's Agricultural Homestead Programme (YAHP) has been oversubscribed. As a result, the ministry has extended the programme to part-time participants.
Cummings said, the programme launched in March was originally geared toward full-time students and had a capacity of 200 people. The programme got 1,400 responses.
“What we then took into consideration as a government is if there are so many young people interested, what can we do to expand and how can we train more of them?”
“We realised that we have young people who qualified but could not join simply because they could not do the programme full time. As a result cabinet agreed to introduce a part-time cycle.”
Cummings also said he visited the homestead where the current cohort of students are being trained at Centeno and was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm.
“They were so excited that they almost convinced me to milk a cow,” Cummings said.
“What we were able to dispel in the introduction of this programme is the myth that young people are not into farming.”
The YAHP programme is an agricultural in-person training programme with the goal of equipping young people with the skills to become agricultural entrepreneurs. The programme is broken into two sections which would be taught over a two-year period.
Year one will offer training in crop production and animal husbandry through the University of TT. Successful trainees will have access to land, technical and financial support through the Land Settlement Agency.
In the second year the budding agri-entrepreneurs will get hands-on training on land assigned to each trainee. They will become land lease holders at the end of the programme, with access to fast-tracking in grants and other means of support.
The part-time programme will have a similar model, giving 200 applicants access to training, equipment, land and other things needed to become a 21 st Century farmer.
The part time application portal went live on Friday.