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Rural – Urban Migration in Trinidad - my experience

A tractor delivers sugar cane to the Usine Ste Madeleine distillery. Photo by: TONY HOWELL

I am from a small rural community located in the southern part of the beautiful island, Trinidad. After completing my degree I moved back home but inadequate job opportunities in my field of study, inept mentorship programs and limited leisure activities at that time lead me to move to an urban community. Even though the rural communities were major providers of agricultural produce with the divestment of Caroni (1975) Limited the number of farmers and farming communities slowly dwindled.

Employability in my area was further strained because of an increase in the amount of persons completing tertiary education. At present, the oil industry dominates the economy as consequence citizens with qualifications within that field have a better chance of attaining employment. I was thus left contending with several others for a position in any company that would hire me. Hence, when the chance came for a position in an urban area I migrated and two years later I am still here.

Migrating has been both a curse and a blessing. Whilst I am grateful for the career opportunities and social mobility I have in my new community, I regret not being able to see my family as often as I would like because of the distance and cost attached to travelling to the country. More and more youths are making the decision to move further north or abroad versus returning home after completing studies at University. I have been able to develop a great support group with past school mates who also moved but this seldom replaces the desire to be around family. The main challenge I have observed with the move was the difficulty in finding living spaces in preferred areas because of overcrowding in some community.

Despite the fact that the government has not identified the wave of youth moving from rural to urban communities as a key issue, many commentators have spoke on the brain drain caused by the increase of youth leaving the country. However, very few if any have addressed the migration from the rural to urban communities or the effect that it has had on those areas. In this situation at least as it relates to agricultural development and research there has been a slight increase in agricultural promotion and development activities noticed at my organization.

I have thought about moving back to the country. However, the cost of commuting from my present job is too expensive unless I obtain a position elsewhere. Youths today are passionate and intrigued to become a part of the progression of the agriculture sector. They desire to enhance their skills and to design methods that would improve the present government system as it relates to dealing with matters in agriculture industry.

There is also an increased awareness of the opportunities available in agriculture. At present to become a part of this movement often involves having to leave our childhood communities to make a temporary or permanent home somewhere else. Therefore rural to urban migration takes away from the development of the rural communities that thrive on agriculture. This can only be solved if measures are put in place to provide incentives to reduce the brain drain away from the rural areas. 

Picture credit: TONY HOWELL - A tractor delivers sugar cane to the Usine Ste Madeleine distillery.