Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The agriculture programme at the Technical and Vocational Division of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) is approximately three years old and the organizers are strengthening systems to enhance its scope.

The institution's Director of Employee and Programme Development, Dr. Leighton Naraine, and Science Lecturer, Stuart Laplace, shared about the agriculture programme on Wednesday's (May 24) edition of the government radio and television programme "Working for You."

Mr. LaPlace stated that a lot of effort was made to dispel the stigmas associated with the field of agriculture such as the commonly heard: it is not for persons who are academically inclined. Once this was understood and appealing features such as hydroponic systems were introduced, it became easier to attract students.  

"We started off with a high level of interest in terms of enrollments and then that increased very rapidly," said Dr. Naraine. However, the numbers have shown some decline in recent times, which has troubled the educators.

The CFBC duo is hoping that the introduction of hydroponics systems to various primary and secondary schools will help to reverse that trend. Last week, Mr. LaPlace presented a unit to the Charles E. Mills Secondary School and said that farming without soil will help to stimulate the interest of some students who are not willing to "get their hands dirty" and also will expose them to the technology at a younger age.

"That's why we are using this approach so that it can increase the contact time they have with the technology," he noted, adding that CFBC students doing the programme spend the first of the two year course learning about theory. The science lecturer said the few months spent in the second year doing practical work aren't as rewarding as there is not enough time to showcase a wide variety of crops.

Mr. LaPlace said working with the high schools allows the students to "get their feet wet ... so when they get to the college now we can move even further and deeper into the concept." 

Students wishing to pursue the subject in university can take advantage of a partnership between the CFBC and the University of Central Florida (UCF). The credits earned from the subject at CFBC can be transferred to UCF, shortening the period of study needed to earn an undergraduate degree.

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