St. Philip residents have given the green light to the establishment of a farm at HMP Dodds, but some have expressed their concerns, pointing to the likelihood of foul odours and the use of pesticides and herbicides.
These concerns were addressed at length by Project Consultant, Dr. Winston Harvey, during a town hall meeting at the St. Philip Parish Church last Wednesday.
The proposal for the farm will see the rearing of 18, 000 broilers, 1, 000 layers, 100 beef and dairy cattle, 500 sheep, 500 pigs and 60 rabbits. It will also see the production of 30 types of vegetable crops including basil, beets, beans, broccoli, onions, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes and okras.
Speaking to those in attendance, including Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite and Superintendent of Prisons, Colonel John Nurse, Dr. Harvey said a social assessment conducted in the surrounding areas revealed that 78 per cent of those surveyed indicated that they believed the prison could provide its own integrated farm.
???The general consensus was that the residents felt the farm was a good idea, but they had concerns,??? he said. Dr. Harvey explained that 52 per cent of residents indicated that they would be concerned about the odour, while 30 per cent said no.
Meanwhile, 42 per cent expressed concern that the health of residents would be affected by the use of chemicals in the area.
In an effort to allay their fears, Dr. Harvey stated that all pesticides and herbicides to be used on the farm were approved and licensed for use in Barbados by the Pesticides Control Board, but noted that it was impossible to have livestock without having an odour.
He added that the management plan for the environmental impact study also outlined a regime to guide the safe use of the pesticides. Those requirements would include insisting that safety procedures are followed by those using the chemicals.
The Consultant told residents that odours will be controlled through the use of a bio-digester, and an incineration plant to deal with dead animals.
He said further surveys will be conducted among those in the community to determine the effects of the farm, if any, while the water would be sampled twice annually to check for any contamination.
Meanwhile, Farm Manager, Ezra Devonish pointed out that the farm was 2, 000 feet away from the houses in the areas, and a buffer zone in the form of an orchard was planted to assist with reducing smells.
He added that efforts were under way to have the prison accredited through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council to train inmates in various areas, so they could do the work on the farm.