By Vanessa Braithwaite-Moore
The time to feed ourselves is now! The only thing between that being just a phrase and reality is the change in mindset of the residents of Region 10. Agriculturist Aaron Leitch, is on a mission to see the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region move from food dependency to self-sufficiency. More than 60 percent of the region’s food is imported from other regions. He argues that there is great risk in depending on others for your basic needs. “The time is always right to feed ourselves. The moment you put your means of survival in the hands of another, you’re automatically dependent on a system of which Region 10 should break away from. Start producing your own food, it’s safer, you become more self-sufficient and the possibility of a healthier and longer life awaits you,” he affirmed.
Leitch is currently employed at the National Agriculture Research Extension Institute (NAREI) as a District Crop Extension Officer. He however goes beyond the call of duty to provide the necessary resources and technical support to farmers while encouraging civilians to turn to the soil. This is very important to him because from a tender age, he saw how agriculture provided for his family’s basic needs and now being a farmer himself, he is seeing the immense benefits this has on his standard of living, more so now that food prices have skyrocketed.
His journey in Agricultural academia started at the Linden Foundation Secondary School, before he pursued and successfully graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture at the Guyana School of Agriculture. Continuing along his path, Leitch completed a Bachelor’s Degree in General Agriculture at the University of Guyana before completing his Masters in Tropical Agriculture at the University of Kasetart in Bangkok Thailand. He also studied soil conservation.
Leitch shared that his inspiration to pursue a career in Agriculture, stemmed from real life experiences. “From a very tender age I started experimenting with cash crops then I ventured off to livestock. The mere fact that agriculture could have provided basic needs for mankind, it was a field of interest to me,” he said. Seeing how it benefited his life tremendously, has motivated him to ensure others reap the benefits too, more so the people of his home region. “I personally think that I have the will, the mind and the technical resources to drive this region out of a state of food dependency owing to my knowledge in this field, in addition to my love and passion for what I do.”
He believes more can be done from those in authority to transform the agriculture sector of Region 10. Rather than an isolated approach, Leitch believes that a systematic approach needs to be taken by looking at the potentials rather than the current production rate. The focus should be access to suitable agricultural land, access to capital for investment and the enactment of policies which will see equitable distribution of agricultural resources. Until that is done, he will continue to contribute as much as he can. “I’m involved in a number of community projects, I provide assistance for less fortunate kids who aspire to take a similar career path and I’m involved in a number of charitable work and provide technical services to persons who are interested in agriculture. The fact that I can use the knowledge that I have and positively impact the lives of those who need it for free. Food clothing and shelter are our basic needs of which agriculture provides, so if I can provide that for humans through my services, I would always be happy in this field.” Leitch also does integrated farming; he has an agriculture outlet that supplies fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to other value added products.
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