Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 17 December 2018 10:19

Soilless agri programme for Mackenzie High

The agriculture science stream at the Mackenzie High School (MHS), Linden will benefit from an aquaponics and hydroponics agricultural cultivation programme, which will be rolled out by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in the near future.

This is according to CARDI’s Guyana representative, Dr. Cyril Roberts during a CARDI Day exercise in Linden last Thursday. Roberts was at the time addressing a group of MHS students and their agricultural science teachers during a tour of a coconut farm.

CARDI was enthused to roll out the programme, following MHS’s record-breaking agricultural science performance at the 2018 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations. Five of the students copped a place at the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CSEC) merit list for agricultural science. CARDI also honoured the school’s top agricultural science student, Gabrielle Williams, who also placed third in the Caribbean.

Williams obtained distinction in agriculture science, and the best grade possible in mathematics, English and three other science-related subjects. The other four students are Chelsea Tappin, Sheniah Layne, Tevin Hercules and Unique Bremner. They, along with their teachers, will be treated to a tour of the Pomeroon River where there is a coconut farm and coconut water factory.

Roberts, in congratulating the students and their teachers for their success, noted that the upcoming programme will assist the future batch of students, particularly with the practical aspect of their School Based Assessments (SBA). Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish. This will be done in a shade house. “We will work with the school in developing the programme, and we hope when we meet with the teachers we will be able to fine-tune our efforts of collaboration for the students in preparing their SBAs for CSEC, that they can actually benefit from the collaboration between the two institutions,” Roberts said.

Headteacher of MHS, Haslyn Small, said the school welcomes the programme for CARDI as it will moreso benefit the upcoming students with their SBAs, since they will no longer have to venture off to other locations to complete same. He said the programme will allow all the agriculture students to see first-hand that there are soilless alternatives to cultivation and how beneficial same can be.

Relative to the record-breaking performance, Small said he is extremely humbled by it even though he would have served as an agricultural science teacher for CXC.

He attributed the success to all the teachers throughout the levels, as well as the other subject teachers, who would have worked with the students since agricultural science involves other subject areas such as integrated science, accounts, chemistry and mathematics. He also thanked the secondary officers of the Department of Education, Region 10, for playing a supervisory role with the students during the preparation for the exams. Small said he hopes the performance would influence the upcoming batch to raise the bar even higher.

Meanwhile, Dr Roberts said it is important to promote a positive image of agriculture in schools. “We have to make agriculture attractive to them, in these times, agriculture cannot be seen by young people as sun and rain and fork and mud. We have to make it sexy, so to speak.”

The aim, he added, is to get students to see agriculture as a profitable business. CARDI is also welcoming all secondary schools in Linden to join the aquaponics/ hydroponics programme.


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