The Maria Holder Memorial Trust has made a significant contribution to youth in Barbados, while providing a boost to the nation’s agricultural sector. Representatives of The Maria Holder Memorial Trust joined this morning with Advisor to the Prime Minister, Undine Whittaker, to announce a contribution of more than BDS $30,000.00 to the Youth in Agriculture Programme.

The Maria Holder Memorial Trust was created in the memory of the late Maria Holder, a long-time resident of Barbados until her untimely passing in 2004. The Trust, founded in 2007 by Christopher Holder and Chester Brewster, is dedicated to improving the lives of those in greatest need in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean. The Trust’s mission is to contribute to the alleviation of poverty and to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people particularly in Barbados. It seeks to enhance education, learning and training and advance the cultural and artistic expression of young people, and to alleviate the suffering of the sick, elderly, disabled or abused. The trust works with established or planned poverty related programmes operated by government and registered NGO’s or charities.

The Youth in Agriculture Programme begun in 2008 by Whitaker, the Government’s Advisor on Poverty Eradication and the Millennium Development Goals, aims to provide unemployed youth with demonstrable agricultural and life skills. The programme takes place on the two-acre 4-H Ministry of Agriculture site located in the Pine. The Maria Holder Memorial Trust donation will be used to both expand the programme and provide much needed equipment and material for the young people.

“Supporting young people with education and training is one of the primary objectives of The Maria Holder Memorial Trust,” said Jane Armstrong, Chief Project Manager with The Trust. “The Trust’s support of the Youth in Agriculture Programme is based on the fact that this initiative offers young people an opportunity to become productive members of the community. It is up to all of us to lend a hand in this critical venture because it is only through the positive growth and development of youth within the country that we can assure a better Barbados for all of us.”

The contribution from The Maria Holder Memorial Trust will be used for the purchase of necessary equipment for the programme, including a hand plough which will be used during the cultivation aspect of the crop husbandry activities. In addition to working with crops, the programme participants are also involved in animal husbandry and Undine Whittaker says that The Trust’s donation will go a long way toward improving that part of the learning experience.

“The young people who are part of the Youth in Agriculture Programme work at crop and animal production,” said Ms Whittaker. “Using the very generous donation that we are pleased to accept today from The Maria Holder Memorial Trust, we will be able to expand the rabbitry programme and eventually enter into commercial production. The young people who take part in this programme come from a variety of backgrounds but have in common a commitment to improving their situations.”

The Youth in Agriculture students actively manage the crop and animal husbandry programme under the supervision of extension officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and are paid a stipend during the year-long programme. While their commitment to the programme is five days-a-week, according to Whittaker some of the participants volunteer of their time on weekends to ensure continuity of care to the plants and animals.

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