|Reopened in July, the 4H store is introducing environmentally friendly products as part of Government’s Green Economy mandate. (A.Skeete/BGIS)
Several months after closing its doors due to slow sales, the popular 4H Seed Store is once again open to the public.
Since reopening in July, sales have been steady and Coordinator for the 4H Seed and Agro-Chemical Store, Lemuel Collymore, believes that the future is looking bright for the Crumpton Street institution.
He added that support for the store has been good and every effort would be made to encourage more farmers to take advantage of the goods and services being offered.
"We have had a lot of our older clients who were accustomed coming to the seed store, let’s say for the past 50 years. [They still] have been coming and they keep on coming back. What we are hoping to do in terms of promotion is to target other persons and the entire farming community because farmers have been crying out about the high cost of input supplies," Mr. Collymore said.
The 4H store is presently working in partnership with the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), an arrangement which Mr. Collymore believes has tremendous benefits for local farmers.
"The BADMC provides the funding. We source some of the products and materials from Trinidad and we repay them… It is an arrangement where the farmers under their programme and all the other farmers in Barbados will benefit in terms of cheaper chemicals."
Mr. Collymore revealed that as part of government’s policy of developing a green economy, the store is now mandated to source environmentally friendly chemicals for farmers at a reasonable and competitive price. This includes insecticides, fungicides and weedicides which are non-toxic, once manufacturers’ recommendations are carefully followed.
In this regard, Mr. Collymore promised that the store was more user-friendly, with information on the products readily available on the shelves so customers can make more informed choices about the chemicals they required.
"I know that some people when they see small bottles, they tend to believe that is not enough and I’ve also had the experience where people will say if half of a teaspoon works well, two teaspoons should work better. We have in the store, the name of the pesticides, the target species, the application rate, the active ingredient and if there is any special condition for application.
"We also offer an advisory service on-the-spot advice where people come in and just want to ask a few questions or we can point them in the right direction where they can get the best advice," the 4H Seed Store Coordinator explained.
Mr. Collymore added that the seed store had also expanded its services to offer rabbits and chickens for sale as well as rabbit and poultry feed.
Educational seminars are also being offered on weekends such as the recently concluded series on Backyard Gardening. "We will put on another one around November. It will run for a month and we will bring in the specialists from the Ministry [of Agriculture] to give the necessary techniques and information," Mr. Collymore pointed out.
An even stronger focus on the youth and entrepreneurship is on the cards, with Mr. Collymore adding that a special area in the 4H compound in Crumpton Street will be designated for the youth to display their handiwork and craft.
"We have also brought on a young 4H’er [on staff] who has just left school. The youth is what [the programme] is all about. We are gradually feeding them into the system. It is a more entrepreneurial type arrangement for the youngsters," he explained.
Mr. Collymore said the 4H Seed Store would continue to provide assistance and advice to the farming community and most importantly, work to ensure the costs of materials are kept to a minimum.
"We are there for the farmers. Feel free to come in at any time and visit us and support us. We will continue to provide support to the farmers and if you have any questions, we will address them. We also want to ensure that prices are kept to a minimum. That is our focus and I believe it can be done," he added.
The 4H Seed Store is open from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.