Fifty- four students from the Agricultural Natural Resource Institute (ANRI) participated in an educational tour of the University of Belize Central Farm campus to enhance their knowledge and skills in farming. The idea is to have the students replicate the projects and efforts at their school in Stann Creek. The aim is to also aid the students in entrepreneurial skills so they can become self-sustainable. Love News spoke with the Chairperson of the Agricultural Natural Resource Institute (ANRI), Debby Jones, who explained how the students will benefit from this project.
Debby Jones, Chairperson, Agricultural Natural reserve Institute (ANRI): “I can say with government right now, our new Minister of Agriculture, that’s one of the things he is pushing: Food. Grow your own food. I mean even way back, Premier Price, George Price, then Prime Minister George Price, he used to always say “Grow what you eat” and definitely growing what you eat is more healthier. We don’t have to be importing these stuff with a lot of preservatives in it. So COVID hitting just really cemented in that message, that we have to grow what we eat. Our eggs, local eggs, chicken, food, vegetables, you know? I mean you don’t have to have a big plot of land to do these things. Just a small, well, right in your backyard. We always say about backyard gardening and so these things can be done right in your backyard for food sustainability.”
Jones also stated that with this type of exposure, she hopes that the students will be able to see the impactful role that agriculture plays in Belize and that it can be done on a grander scale. In an interview with Love News, the Principal of ANRI, Francelia Baide said that she believes this project will help the students as they return to face-to-face learning.
Francilia Baide, Principal, Agricultural Natural reserve Institute (ANRI): “There has been an amazing transformation so far. When we returned, we were just in the process of preparation and if you were to visit ANRI at this point, we have started our vegetable production. We have also planted some corn. We’re in the development of getting back our greenhouse, you know, back to the state of where we would want it to be very productive and so coming out here, it gives the students that opportunity to come and see what can be done inside and for us to get it moving in the right path. Well it will definitely benefit them because they will be exposed to other animals that are common in our country and if they want to transition and further their studies here at the UB Central Campus as we always try to encourage them to take on the opportunity, you know while they’re young. It will broaden their mind to have an idea of what they are to do referencing the rearing of these animals.”
The principal of ANRI says that although the students faced setbacks in their studies due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are slowly making advancements in their practical approach in their field. We spoke with one of the students from ANRI, Jacqueline Torres, who explained what her experience has been like so far.
Jacqueline Torres, Student, Agricultural Natural reserve Institute (ANRI): “Well I believe this agriculture is not just agriculture. It has another step where you can take as an entrepreneur because it is our basic things that we need here in our lives and also it can be a job for many. Basically it’s something that we shouldn’t say like it’s agriculture or anything because it’s like a benefit for everyone in our country and we know what we produce here is safe for us to eat.”
During the visit to the University of Belize Central Farm, first to fourth year students had the opportunity to learn more about sheep and tilapia farming.