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Barrouallie Government School at their career day. (Photo: Facebook/Barrouallie Government School)
Barrouallie Government School at their career day. (Photo: Facebook/Barrouallie Government School)
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This week, primary schools across SVG have been hosting career days. Students proudly dress the part of the profession they aspire to. While we encourage all students to follow their plans and chosen career paths, perhaps one of the most incredibly stunning images we’ve seen coming out of SVG in recent times is the one above.

That’s where two female students at a primary school in Barrouallie stood proudly — heads held high — dressed seemingly portraying themselves as future farmers, even while they stood among their peers who were dressed for the more glamourous careers (doctors, lawyers, etc.).

Why do we consider this image to be incredible? For one, this is not usually the image we see with young students, let alone two young female students. Second, in one of our previous pieces, we wrote about SVG being a net importer of food and by all indications, the country appears destined for a veritable crisis in its food production and security. This may very well be the case in the wider Caribbean region as well. We explored two publications with enrolment statistics — by faculty — published by the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus. Part of that data shown below.

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UWI St. Augustine Campus – ANNUAL REPORT
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UWI St. Augustine – Undergraduate enrolment (2016/17 – 2020/21)
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UWI St. Augustine – Postgraduate enrolment (2016/17 – 2020/21)

Notice the trend in the undergrad enrolment in the faculty of Food & Agriculture — 836 total enrolments in 2016/17, down to 545 in 2020/21 — a 35% reduction in five years. Postgraduate enrolment follows a similar trend; 223 total in 2016/17, down to 166 in 2020/21. The rest of the student statistics publication may also make for interesting perusal.

If the data presented by UWI St. Augustine is any indication of the trend and regional approach to agriculture, coupled with what we know about the regional food import crisis, perhaps the issue of food security is indeed one that the wider Caribbean region must begin to address from a generational perspective. That is: a plan to make agriculture attractive to young people, starting at the primary school level.

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These two young girls may very well be the ones to help SVG (and the region) address its food production and security, as well as the stability of the sector. In 20-30 years, they may be responsible for feeding their peers who may have chosen the more glamorous professions. Let us hope that they are encouraged to pursue careers in agriculture. In the context of SVG and the wider region, this is the real girl power.

Observer

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