The launch of an agricultural project on Monday at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) has been accepted by Education Minister Ronald Jones as timely, as the region has to feed its people.

Speaking at the launch ceremony for the Organization of American States/SJPP initiative at the Wildey institution, Mr. Jones said at this critical time, the region needed to look forward and be developmental, ensuring all was done to mobilise its citizenry ???to achieve the various things for regional food security???.

Reflecting on the 1930s and 1940s, he said Barbados was able to maintain high levels of agricultural production despite severe crises like World War II. He intimated that this could be attained once people did not turn away ???from the foods that have kept us alive over centuries of cultivation???.

The US $150,000 project is funded by the OAS, and already there are demonstration sites in Guyana and St. Kitts and Nevis, with others soon to come in Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago. It is entitled: Provisions: Organic, Hydroponic, and Hybrid-System Growing for Caribbean Schools and Model for Local Caribbean Entrepreneurship.

Stating that the project???s effort in the area of research was not to be discounted, the Minister said it was tied to other initiatives at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine and Cave Hill campuses.

He said as we looked towards food security and the work being done at the UWI, the SJPP, the Barbados Community College, secondary schools, the 4-H Movement and the Hope Agricultural Training Institute, ideas had to be transformed into meaningful production.

The Education Minister also praised the project team led by Director of Employee & Program & Research from the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts, Dr. Leighton Naraine. He noted the project???s contributions to the young people of the region and its use of science, technology and innovation.

Meanwhile, OAS official, Erika Watson, said the project, which was under implementation since 2014, was a collaborative effort on the part of higher educational professionals, community-based organisations, governmental ministries and non-governmental specialists in sustainable development in the participating countries.

Explaining its objectives, she said: ???The project seeks to address adaptation to climate change through a focus on hydroponics, organics and hybrid-based systems as a model for local Caribbean entrepreneurship that is innovative agricultural production systems???

???The system is important because it can continue to grow crops even with adverse weather conditions and other natural disasters, allowing farmers to continue to put food on the table and shelves within 40 days. Most importantly, it allows crops to grow independently of the seasonality of the rainfall conditions.???

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