Two hundred people interested in agriculture are being given the opportunity to expand and become certified in the field after signing up for the two-year Government-funded Youth Agricultural Homestead Programme (YAHP).
The group, comprising people between the ages of 18 and 35, became the first cohort to do so and was selected out of 1,600 applicants.
They attended the orientation at the Government Campus Plaza in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
Minister of Youth Development Foster Cummings said the YAHP was established especially for them and not only to provide employment.
“To prosper through agri-entrepreneurship, to build wealth and to have housing security,” Cummings said.
Cummings revealed that the applicants who complete the programme will benefit from a starter home on two acres of fertile land “to facilitate the cultivation of a holistically sustainable lifestyle for your generations so that you live and farm on the same land.”
Year one of the programme is aimed at theoretical learning at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and year two will be practical.
The $8,000 tuition will also be covered by the Government.
“It’s not a hit and miss arrangement, we not just giving you land and say go plant, you are getting the training to empower you to get on these lands in an informed position so that you will be 21st-century farmer,” he said.
According to Cummings, the location of the lands are across the country and in year two, the Land Settlement Agency will facilitate the development and infrastructure of the lands.
“Located at Fyzabad, Chatham, Kendall in Palo Seco, La Gloria in New Grant in the first phase, in the second phase Valencia, Gran Couva, Pointe-a-Pierre, Todd’s Road, Lopinot and Santa Cruz,” he said.
Cummings said the Government will hold the participants’ hands every step of the way but urged the youths to attend classes and be attentive.
He said their knowledge can benefit more than just them.
“We hope to see you contribute to rural transformation, agricultural production and food security, as well as climate change and environmental sustainability,” he said.
Applicant Regina Chase, who said she had been interested in entrepreneurship and agriculture from the moment she started selling at the market at the age of 10, said she’s ready.
“My goal after this course, upon successful completion, is to extend my services to Caricom, build self-sustainability, create job opportunity, employment for the youth coming up,” she said.
Minister Cummings encouraged the 1,400 failed applicants to try again next year.