(Castries Wednesday December 12th, 2012), Agriculture stakeholders in Saint Lucia have advanced their knowledge and application in ICT through the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA), funded first OECS Web 2.0 Learning Opportunities workshop.
The recent training course, from November 26th to 30th 2012, introduced participants to selected Web 2.0 applications in a hands-on approach on how to use innovative applications and to assess their adoption within the context of their work and organizations. The first leg of the five day Web 2.0 learning opportunity workshop for St. Lucia climaxed with a graduation ceremony.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates Jeanelle Knight expressed delight in the improved level of awareness and enthusiasm among her colleagues regarding the viable connection between ICT and Agriculture: “In the past the integration of ICT and Agriculture was not seen as something that was a big deal. Overtime, the perception changed because of the evolution of technology and how it is utilized….The goal of the workshop was definitely achieved. Many of us will leave here … with a better understanding and appreciation of these applications and we vow to extend our knowledge to others.”
In compliance with course guidelines seventy percent of the participants were from the fields of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Natural Resource Management, in the domains of information and communication. Special consideration was given to participants with a mandate to train others. Thirty percent of the participants were women.
The training programme was hosted by CTA in collaboration with the OECS Secretariat and the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Production in St. Lucia, with support from the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Course participants represented regional and national organizations as well as private consultancies.
Commending the graduates, George Alcee, Agricultural Economist at the OECS Secretariat noted the effectiveness of the learning opportunities course in facilitating enhanced access to and sharing of information:“I was very impressed with the presentations and I know that it’s now your time to expand on what you have learnt and to improve your organization and yourself. I am sure that your appreciation of the benefits of ICT, the Facebook pages and blogs you have created, your new competence in the use of open source online interactive tools, your knowledge and strategies, tips and tools for efficient online research and your newly acquired knowledge and understanding will greatly improve your capacity as well as add to and improve the current processes at your respective organizations. I now challenge you as you return to your organizations to make that change…”
The training programme comprised several modules such as: How to develop content remotely using wikis and Google Docs, Online mapping, voice over internet and Professional / corporate social networking (LinkedIn and Facebook). The best group presentation during the course was entitled “Kids in Agriculture”
The Deputy Permanent Secretary at Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Agriculture Sonia Monrose welcomed the novel ICT course as an opportunity to attract or return many young people to the agriculture industry: “For young people today it’s all about technology, computers and social networks.” Monrose also advised the participants to be wary of issues such as cyber crime, as they advance their skills in strengthening the nexus between ICT and Agriculture.
The recent Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunities training programme was the first undertaken in the OECS. The second Saint Lucia leg of the course will be held in February 2013 after which the training programme will then be rolled out in other OECS Member States during the course of that same year.