Organic Farming Charting A Way Forward

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Reliance on chemicals and pesticides could soon be a thing of the past if organic farming continues to make its way into mainstream agriculture.

President of the Organic Growers and Consumer Association (OGCA), Michael Bradshaw, made these comments today at the second in a series of lectures on Sustainable Living – Organic Farming, Foods & Lifestyles, held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

He told the gathering that he would like to see "organic farming expand to the point where each and every farmer in this country goes organic," as it would not only increase and improve persons’ well-being but also teach future generations the benefits of healthy living.

Noting that organic farming would not only have a positive effect on individuals, Mr. Bradshaw outlined that it would also be beneficial to the environment.?? "We need to stop putting these chemicals into the environment, as we ultimately inhale these fumes and this has serious repercussions on our health.?? If we could get organic farming going to the point where we could stop the importation of a lot of foods, then it would certainly increase production and benefit our economy as well," he emphasised.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn, who was in attendance, lauded the initiative and praised the timeliness of the seminar.?? "In the Caribbean, this method of farming is slowly taking root.?? Within the last 10 years, organic movements have been emerging across the region, and are presently in Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.?? However, in Barbados, organic farming is in its infancy and at a developmental stage.

Citing the numerous benefits from organic agriculture, the Minister urged more farmers and members of the farming community to "get on board" in terms of exploring and exploiting the benefits of such a venture.

"… Its benefits offer tremendous opportunities for developing countries such as Barbados. It can contribute substantially to food security enhancement and climate change mitigation, not to mention the social, economic and health benefits to be derived.?? In addition, organic agriculture is viewed as a viable option for sustaining the agricultural sector in developing countries," the Senator remarked.

While disclosing that in Barbados 65 organic farmers were currently registered under the OGCA, he revealed that only 15 were active.?? "Organic agriculture is confronted by some challenges.?? … Hence, this has a negative impact for farmers, as they have to wait long periods before gaining access to the limited available farming equipment.?? What people don’t realise is that the organic agricultural industry holds

??great potential for this country. Therefore, we must seize the moment and do all that we can to transform the industry into a vibrant one," Mr. Benn declared.

tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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