While it was appreciated that in recent years there had been a greater awareness among the farming community of the need for some form of agricultural education it seemed there were still far too many young people entering the industry each year who were not receiving any form of agricultural training.
This was stated by Mr R Houston in his principal’s report at Enniskillen Agricultural College prize-day last week.
Mr Houston said that the Ministry at Enniskillen – “as at all the other colleges” – was providing the necessary facilities whereby all young people could avail themselves of an agricultural education.
“Surely this is an opportunity which can not be missed? Might it not even be an opportunity that no future farmer can afford to miss? Is it not true that the future prosperity of the agricultural industry in Northern Ireland depends on well trained farmers as well as on busy hard-working farmers?” Mr Houston asked.
The most common argument put forward by farmers against allowing their sons to pursue a college course was that they could not do without them at home.
“Now I hope that I appreciate the difficulties of running a farm as well as the next man but in all honesty are all such farmers being really fair to their sons? It may not always be easy and it may entail certain difficulties but with a little effort I feel that in many cases this argument could be overcome.
“I would suggest that any farmer with a son about to take up farming – or indeed with a son already in farming without some form of training – should think seriously about this question.”
Mr Houston reported that as in the first year there had once again been the full complement of 30 students from all over Northern Ireland – 16 from Fermanagh, eight from Tyrone, two from Armagh, two from Down, one from Antrim and one from Donegal.
“I am convinced that this inter-mixing of young people from different counties is in itself an inherent part of their education,” Mr Houston said.
With one year’s experience behind them, teaching had become easier and in the overall success of the year the students had played their part well.