Annually, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) awards the top performing student across all degrees, overs years 1 to 3 from the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, UWI, St Augustine Campus with the T.P Lecky Prize. From the 2022 graduating class, two male students Daree Myers and Justin Edwards tied for the top prize.
Justin Edwards receiving the T.P Lecky prize at CARDI Headquarters
Daree Myers receiving his prize from the CARDI’s Executive Director at the Faculty of Food and Agriculture Prize Giving Ceremony
At the Faculty’s Prize Giving Ceremony held on 23rd October, 2022, Daree Myers received his prize from CARDI’s Executive Director, Ansari Hosein. Justin Edwards who was unable to attend the ceremony later received his prize at the CARDI office in Trinidad.
Both students began their tertiary journey in September 2019, but were only able to enjoy one full semester on campus before COVID-19 abruptly blew up their University experience. They switched to online learning and navigated that journey for the remainder of their undergraduate degree.
Practical learning through field and laboratory demonstration is an integral part of agricultural education, and both students were robbed of this for the most part as a result of COVID 19 restrictions. However, they were grateful for the 6 weeks On – Farm training the Faculty offered in 2022, which allowed them some vital practical field experience.
Daree Myers who hails from St Vincent and the Grenadines graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship. He is currently enrolled in the MSc Food Security programme at UWI. This budding entrepreneur who has a keen interest in policymaking says that he hopes “To spark a change in the tastes and preferences of people. I want to make regionally grown foods attractive to the Caribbean palate, increasing opportunities for our farmers.” He continued by saying “Agriculture is far too important and more needs to be done to promote the value and importance of the sector to the Region.” He mused that it should be an essential part of the school curriculum at primary and secondary levels and youths must have easier access to land and financing.”
Like his colleague, Justin’s interest in agriculture took root at an early age and blossomed thanks to his Orisha faith which is grounded in ‘environmental consciousness.’ In the near future Justin wants to be a successful agri preneur – owning multiple businesses. To ensure he has the requisite knowledge and experience to hone the business aspects of Agriculture, Justin is currently pursuing an MSc in Management Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI, St Augustine. One of his goals is to start an e-farm from where he can supply healthy and nutritious foods as well as agri based services to customers. Justin notes that technology is a game changer for agriculture and he is excited to demonstrate how it can improve production and efficiency.
Noting that students are shying away from pursuing studies in Agriculture, Daree’s advice to the youths are ‘The field needs your intelligence and your ideas. Realize that agriculture is more than what you see being practiced in the fields. Help us end the age old notion that Agriculture is for the uneducated. Your brilliance, along with the skills you’ll obtain through formal education will not only allow you to make a living, but it will help you to make desperate incremental changes to our food system.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Justin, who advised that “Agriculture is more than tilling land, it is becoming automated as there are now use of drones, tractors and other technologies to increase agricultural goods and services. Agriculture is taking major leaps and this evolution will positively impact the Caribbean people and environment.”
In offering his congratulations CARDI’s Executive Director, Ansari Hosein said that the youth and young farmers are the future of the Region’s agriculture and agri-food sectors. The Institute’s OJT Programme is designed and structured to provide the practical skills and technical knowledge needed to develop them into future agriculture architects. He continued by saying they will be prepared to bring their fresh ideas and innovative approaches to the fore which will result in building a competitive sector ready to meet the changing needs of tomorrow.
Dr. Thomas Phillip (T.P.) Lecky, is a Jamaican Scientist, whose research work focused on cattle. In 1951 Lecky’s extensive research resulted in the first breed of indigenous Jamaican cattle, the Jamaican Hope, a symbol of hope for the poor. Later research work resulted in the development of the following breeds: Jamaican Red, Jamaican Brahman and Jamaican Black. As a young boy Lecky’s love for livestock and agriculture in particular was instilled by his father a farmer. He is the recipient of several awards including Order of the British Empire. Lecky is widely published and held many prominent positions in Jamaica.