Ramsammy hails agriculture as ‘ticket to a prosperous future’ – at launch here of Agricultural Science at CAPE

GUYANA yesterday joined the rest of the Caribbean in launching the ‘New Generation’ of Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects at the Theatre Guild on Parade Street, Kingston.

After winning the Agricultural Science subject award since 2008, it was only fitting that Guyana should offer Agricultural Science at CAPE.

Over the years, the Caribbean agricultural agenda through the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI) has continued to be driven by the sequence of initiatives following the declaration of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, July 1973. These include the Regional Transformation Programme for Agriculture (RTP), and ‘The Jagdeo Initiative’, which was conceptualised to accelerate its implementation.

Speaking briefly at the function, CARDI Representative, Norman Gibson said “since 2007, CARDI has been involved with CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) and we have been providing a prize for the most outstanding student in Agricultural Science. And since 2008, Guyana has been winning that prize, it is recognised that Guyanese students over the years have been outstanding in this sector.”

Dr Leslie Ramsammy showcasing Guyana-grown carrots and beet

Dr Leslie Ramsammy showcasing Guyana-grown carrots and beet

According to Glenroy Cumberbatch, acting Registrar of CXC, “This step is a giant leap towards providing our youth with the knowledge, the confidence and insights needed to change the quality of products we put forward.

“In Agricultural Science, it would put our prospective farmers in a better position to make evidence-based and informed judgments and decisions on implementing best-practices to enhance the sector over time, and on preserving the environment and this can be the same for the other four subjects too.” He further explained that each syllabus was designed with an input from all member state countries.

CARDI’s Norman Gibson examines Guyana’s agricultural produce (Photo compliments of Ministry of Education)

CARDI’s Norman Gibson examines Guyana’s agricultural produce (Photo compliments of Ministry of Education)

“Guyana could have justifiably launched any of the five subjects here today, but seeing that we have been awarded best outstanding student in Agricultural Science since 2008, it is fitting that Guyana launches the Agricultural Science,” said Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand at the function.

Manickchand said that “CXC has really done what is absolutely necessary in our region today, and this is not the end as we heard. Guyana is fully supportive of any efforts that will do well for CARICOM countries, and CXC will continue to receive the support from the people and the Government of Guyana.” And with the present generation being more inclined to business, she said, this initiative of the CXC couldn’t come at a better time, since it will help them make the right decisions and be properly qualified.

The CAPE Agricultural Science syllabus is so designed as to help students with the essentials of business ownership, legal and regulatory frameworks and the importance of market research, among other aspects.

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand receives a copy of the syllabuses from acting CXC Registrar, Glenroy Cumberbatch (Photos by Sonell Nelson)

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand receives a copy of the syllabuses from acting CXC Registrar, Glenroy Cumberbatch (Photos by Sonell Nelson)

Meanwhile, in his feature address, Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy pointed out that “before time, farming was for those who failed, or for those who could not do anything better, as we propagate that success is being a doctor or lawyer, an accountant and we treat our farmers as peasants but not anymore.

“We are equipping our youth for the future in farming, giving them the necessary knowledge and understanding of the importance of agriculture as it relates to food and the environment, and the multi-functionality of territories of the Caribbean region.”

“Only recently Guyana has exceeded 300,000 tonnes of rice as the first crop production for 2014; it is the first time in our history as well as the Caribbean’s history. Last year we produced 535,000 tonnes of rice and we are working to achieve 600,000 tonnes in 2014 which seems like a real possibility. And it is possible because of science and technology; it has transformed the agriculture industry in Guyana and in our region,” Ramsammy said.

He said further that there is a group of Guyanese scientists at the Rice Research Center using genetic science to produce crops that can withstand the adverse weather while producing more in the same given land.
“We have grown and reaped our first batch of ‘Irish’ potatoes, carrots and beets, and this is because our farmers are now equipped with the tools needed,” Ramsammy said.

And with what CAPE has done in launching these new subjects,he said, “we will see the Caribbean students’ willingness not to imitate what the world set out for them but to lead.”

The five new CAPE subjects for teaching in September 2014 and the first examination in 2015 are Agricultural Science, Entrepreneurship, Performing Arts, Physical Education and Sport, and Tourism.
The five subjects will be launched in five CXC participating countries, with each event having a specific subject theme. The first launch took place on Friday, May 9th in Barbados and the theme for the event in Barbados was Tourism.
On Thursday, May 15, the launch will continue at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Headquarters, Westmoorings, Port of Spain and the theme in Trinidad and Tobago is Entrepreneurship. St Lucia will host the launch which focuses on the Performing Arts on Friday, May 16th at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) and the final launch will take place in Jamaica on Tuesday, May 20th with Physical Education and Sport as the theme at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, starting at 10:00 am.
CXC is partnering with various stakeholders to host the different events. These include the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) of St Lucia, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and various tertiary institutions in Jamaica.
The introduction of the five new subjects follows the launch of Digital Media in September 2013. This now brings the total number of subjects offered at CAPE to 30.