Promoting Agriculture and Food Sustainability through Apprenticeship Programs in the Caribbean: A Case Study in Trinidad and Tobago
2008 AIAEE Proceedings of the 24th Annual Meeting E.A.R.T.H. University, Costa Rica
The urgent need for developing nations to ensure food security has driven efforts to increase youth participation in agriculture within recent times. The Youth Apprenticeship Programme in Agriculture (YAPA) in Trinidad and Tobago is a government-sponsored programme for youth 17-25 years. It was launched in 2003 and its primary purpose is to provide an opportunity for young people to become involved in farming. It is expected that this experience will show them that farming can be pursued successfully as a career and in a business –like manner. This should have the desired outcome of increased numbers of young persons entering the agriculture sector, a necessity for sustainable agricultural development. The program is linked to overall policy goals of food security, poverty alleviation, employment and rural development. This paper assesses the YAPA and outlines key points related to challenges and success faced by the program. A mixed method approach was used to gather information. Focus group sessions were conducted with all programme coordinators and a sample of trainees. This was followed by a formal survey using a self administered questionnaire with all current trainees (n=57), a survey among past trainees (n=37) and an examination of archival data. Results were mixed and showed that the majority of trainees in the programme had positive attitudes towards agriculture. They entered the program because of their strong belief in the future of farming and to generate additional. Those trainees who had negative attitudes disrupted the programme and upset the coordinators. Results also showed that there are several shortcomings with the overall structure of the YAPA program. The government needed to be more supportive of the program and follow through with promised resources and post YAPA funding.