Government is working to improve the lot of local farmers through the establishment of a new tractor cultivation scheme.
This is the word from Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, who said such a project would help alleviate some of the challenges faced by small and medium-sized farmers in getting their lands prepared and cultivated for planting.
Speaking during a recent press conference at the Ministry’s headquarters at Graeme Hall, Christ Church, he said some BDS$3 million had been allocated for the new programme.
"The objective would be to have a centralised facility established from which requests from various farmers around Barbados would come and we would provide that service at a nominal rate. There is also going to be a joint arrangement with private tractor operators, to have better economies of scale," he explained.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), Andrew Skeete, estimated that the new project would boost local food crop production by about 4.6 million pounds, at a value of BDS$9.2 million.
He surmised that the project would also generate employment, with an additional 115 persons gaining jobs, contributing a further $1.6 million to the economy.
Mr. Skeete also revealed that discussions were ongoing to have the tractor facility housed in St. George.
"We have determined that we are going to start with a six unit fleet of various sizes and primary ancillary equipment. We expect to house the operation in St. George. We already had discussions with the owners of the property and indications are positive.
"Once we receive the funding…we will be ready to go to tender for the equipment." He said the staff complement had already been identified, and it was anticipated that work could be completed by the end of this year, with an expected roll-out by January 2013."