The tiny central American country of Belize has begun a major initiative to improve its agricultural sector. Nearly a third of the nation’s 313,000 people depend on farming for their livelihood, which has made agricultural sustainability a major issue for the government.
As of last week, Belize has a new partner in this effort with a local connection. Parkland College is teaming up with the University of Belize (UB) and two other Canadian colleges to development an applied agriculture program at UB.
“A key aspect of this project is revamping the University of Belize’s agricultural curriculum to support student transitions to employment,” said William Litchfield, director of advancement at Parkland College. “In addition to curriculum support there will be significant time spent sharing best practices in academic advising, environmental stewardship, entrepreneurship, and attracting female students into non-traditional agricultural opportunities.”
Litchfield said Parkland College has a long history of working with local communities to support economic growth through education and will share its best practices with its partners to support the University of Belize’s growth and development.
Lakeland College (Lloydminster and Vermillion, AB) is taking the overall lead on the Canadian side of the equation with Parkland assuming the lead role on gender mainstreaming strategies, developing training and materials for career guidance, and social marketing strategies and implementation. The other Canadian partner is Bow Valley College (Calgary).
The University of Belize has several campuses of which its inland Central Farm Campus will be the primary site of the new program. The Central Farm Campus features a diverse mixed farm operation, providing students with hands-on training in livestock, field crops, and resource marketing. The partnership with the Canadian colleges aims to share information across the Caribbean to boost recruitment and promotion of agricultural programs.
“We look forward to working together with our partners on this project,” Litchfield said. “There’s a lot we can offer to make this partnership a success. But we’re also excited to be an active learner to better serve our students, communities and businesses in east-central Saskatchewan.”
The three-year project launches April 1, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).
The ACCC’s International Partnerships program offers opportunities for members, such as Parkland to establish connections with institutions in developing countries.