Re-enforcing its commitment to young persons, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, in partnership with Prince’s Trust International and the Barbados Ruminants and Rabbit Rearing Society, introduced a group of young people to the techniques of rabbit rearing.
During the National Youth Week Get Hired Empowerment Workshop in September 2022, the group of 20 young persons, six females and 14 males, were introduced to a six-week programme which officially got started on October 31, 2022. Under the ‘Get Into’ Programme, the Rabbit Rearing training initiative is the first within the agricultural series targeting Barbadian youth interested in agriculture. Facilitated by Executive Director at the Barbados Ruminants and Rabbits Rearing Society, Wayne Smith, the training programme explored the theoretical aspects of rabbit rearing, including: The Dollars and Cents of Rabbit Rearing, Cage Building, Ration Mixing & Production and Cluster Farming.
Coupled with theory were tours and practical sessions offering participants hands-on experience and insight into rabbit rearing and its development in Barbados.
On one of two visits to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security at Graeme Hall, Christ Church in early November, Mr. Smith along with Project Manager, Philip Lashley and representatives from the Central Fish Processors Association, demonstrated to the group the art of producing quality rabbit food using easily accessible and low-cost ingredients.
The project seeks to eventually mass produce this rabbit feed in order to offer farmers a cheaper alternative to that being currently sold on the market. Many of the young participants, who are keen to start their own rabbit farms at the end of the six-week programme, were very engaged and hands-on during the session.
Further excitement was seen during a follow-up session when participants were guided in constructing rabbit cages from scratch. Thus far, the participants have also visited a private rabbit-rearing farm in St. Michael to observe the set-up within a community and gain first-hand knowledge from its owner. Mr. Smith stated the importance of programmes such as Get Into: “I think it’s important for initiatives such as youth training and the project with the Central Fish Processors, that the partners in the industry connect from early. It is critical,” he stated. The facilitators lauded the young people for choosing to begin their careers within the Agricultural sector and willingness to explore “alternative livelihoods”.
In thanking the Ministry of Agriculture, the operators of the Rabbit Rearing facility, the facilitators and agricultural organisations facilitating the programme, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment’s Programme Coordinator, Elizabeth Bowen, stated that “there were other collaborations with other entities to build out youth interest and engagement as it relates to agriculture”.
Ms. Bowen added that this was an exciting time for the Ministry’s employability programmes because both young people and the various private, public and third sectors have recognized the combined strengths in the programmes and were stepping forward to participate in the training, networking and employment process.