The Commonwealth of Learning and Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs and Ministry of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development are collaborating to bring a Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) project to the Commonwealth small island state.
COL’s L3F initiative works to strengthen country agricultural sectors and provide livelihoods for poor and vulnerable women and youth.
Professor Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs Honourable Arthur Nibbs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 20 June 2017 that will see the organisations work to empower farming communities through the use of open and distance learning and flexible and blended learning.
Hon. Nibbs spoke at the launch event, saying: “I am pleased to announce today that the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs will create a new partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning organisation to create a lifelong learning platform.”
The Minister of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development Honourable Samantha Marshall said that the project would allow Antigua and Barbuda to further develop the domestic agricultural sector so that they can buy and eat local products.
The L3F initiative developed a model linking the capacity building of farming communities, particularly women, through open and distance and flexible and blended learning, and linked the process with social and financial capital.
Professor Asha Kanwar pointed out that the L3F model is not only theoretical: “It has been established as a successful model in many countries. We have shown in Asia that through L3F, every $1 spent has yielded $9 worth of social returns to the participating communities. Financial institutions have disbursed millions of dollars to the L3F participants and have earned eight times more income from our participants compared to those who borrow with proper structured learning. Capacity building in L3F is cost-effective and costs just one-sixth of what conventional face-to-face training cost.”
The 20 June event marked the launching of a pilot covering 200 farmers, most of whom are women. They will learn advanced farming techniques and the basic of financial literacy and enterprise development. Financial institutions and information and communications technology companies will be part of the partnership to provide appropriate support.