Product development and farm establishment activities continue under the Youth Agri-entrepreneurship for Rural Development (YARD) project. The project aims to improve the production capacity and competitiveness of young agri-entrepreneurs through better access to lands, facilities, equipment, skills development and seed capital.
It is being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and National Mobilisation (Youth Affairs Department) and is being funded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO). According to Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Colville King, “initiatives like these can assist rural youth in positioning themselves to contribute to the reduction of the country’s extra-regional agri-food import bill.”
King stated that since the inception of the project in October 2021, the Innovative Youth Agribusiness Multipurpose Cooperative (IYAMCO) in Layou and Youth Agribusiness Multipurpose Cooperative (YAMCO) in Biabou have established small farm plots, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture. They are cultivating a range of commodities, some of which will be used in their value-added product. These crops include: chive, celery, cabbage, sweet corn, sweet pepper and water melon. These farm plots will be used as a platform for training of group members.
King added that other groups located in Bequia, Chateaubelair and North Union will establish farms, once they have identified and finalised lease/rental arrangement for lands.
The Innovative Youth Agribusiness Multipurpose Cooperative (IYAMCO) and Infusion Co Group in Chateaubelair and North Union respectively were trained in sessions to improve their wine and infused oils in two product development fora. These sessions were conducted by Food Technologist in the Ministry of Agriculture, Kemston Cato.
So far, forty-nine (49) youths have received training in business planning from International Business Planning Expert, Tom O’Callaghan of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). During the month of July, they will receive further training in financial planning, marketing and branding.