Dr. Estwick: Farm Incentive Schemes Being Revised

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Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, David Estwick, delivers brief remarks yesterday at a food crop research field day at the Central Agronomic Research Station, Ministry of Agriculture, Graeme Hall, Christ Church. (A.Skeete/BGIS)

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The Ministry of Agriculture could soon be looking at an incentive scheme to encourage more farmers to utilise low-cost greenhouse technology in the production of crops.

This is according to Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, who revealed that the Ministry was in the process of revising its farm incentive schemes and such an initiative could be included in the new programme.

He was speaking yesterday following a Food Crop Research Field Day at the Ministry’s headquarters at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

During the field tour, farmers, officials of the ministry and agricultural stakeholders saw firsthand how row covers were used to cultivate hot peppers, with very encouraging results. The project was undertaken by the Central Agronomic Research Station.

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Row covers on display at the Ministry of Agriculture’s, Central Agronomic Research Station’s Food Crop Research Field Day yesterday. (A. Skeete/BGIS)??

Row covers are protective materials used to shield crops from harsh elements including cold, wind and damage from insects.

Dr. Estwick lamented that too many of the farm incentive schemes were back loaded, that is, farmers have to purchase the items they require and then apply for a rebate.

He stressed that such a system was not in the best interest of small to medium-sized farmers.

"You would appreciate that the majority of the small to medium-sized farmers would not have the cash flow upfront, so we are trying to revise that to create a mechanism where farmers would not receive money in their hand, but who they wish to purchase from, we can access directly and the rebate therefore, goes to the supplier," the Agriculture Minister explained.

Dr. Estwick said another option to encourage farmers to use greenhouse technology could be to bulk purchase materials.

"We can act as the conduit to bulk purchase. Apart from [that], we can have this set under the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd., the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation or within the ambit of the Barbados Agricultural Society …The bulk purchasing can be done in relation to the orders from the framers so no storage is necessary. When you bulk purchase, [the goods] are then delivered directly from the supplier to the farmers, which would [also] eliminate the necessity for infrastructure," Dr. Estwick suggested.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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