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EDITORIAL: Agrofest best promo for farming

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Agrofest best promo for farming

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AGROFEST 2011 seems to have been a great success judging from the large numbers who trekked to Queen’s Park to view the exhibits and to learn more about food production.
 We can hardly encourage young people to become interested in careers in agriculture unless they know something about the business of husbandry and farming. the annual staging of Agrofest will go a long way in exposing our younger folk to the profession of farming, and we refer to the profession deliberately because we ear that not many people regard working on the land as a profession.
Our historical memory associates working land with the demeaning and devilish practice of slavery and many of us still see agriculture as a sort of forced labour and many are those who have laboured in the fields and in the baking sun so that “my child won’t have to go through what I am going through”.
 Those residual influences have determined the love-hate relationship that many of our generation have with the land. They may love the food produced, but hate the back-breaking toil required to produce it.
  The irony is that we copy some of the practices of the metropolitan countries to our detriment, but we have failed in almost every respect to recognize that those countries regard working the land as a most honourable occupation and profession, especially when one owns the title to such land.
Indeed the expression gentleman farmer speaks volumes about the manner in which ownership and management of the land is regarded. So anciently honourable is farming that the University of Cambridge has long offered a degree course in “land economy”.
  We therefore applaud the staging of Agrofest because we see it as part of the effort to change the image of agriculture and to regard the profession of farming as the way to package and capture for our young people the attractions of the profession.
Modern machinery and technology have created a whole new ball game in which back-breaking labour has been replaced by machines and in which the business of management is no longer left to “hit-and-miss” methods, but must embrace modern management principles if the farming venture is to succeed.
We are pleased to see that some intelligent young people have deliberately chosen to be professional farmers, and they are all to be warmly congratulated on their foresight.
It now seems common policy of the government and the opposition parties that backyard farming should be undertaken as current government ministers have now echoed former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s 2007 advice.
We support it as good policy because many a lifelong interest in a career has been sparked by an early childhood connection, and in the current environment we must literally grow what we will eat if we are to make a dent in our food bills.
But nothing significant will be achieved unless there is a concerted effort to show that the modern face of agriculture is farming, and that it is a worthy profession in which brain power is as important as in any other profession, and that farming is a good career choice.