The Barbados Agricultural, Development and Marketing Corporation’s (BADMC) further involvement in agro-processing should augur well for participants undergoing training under the Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) programme.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, made this clear at the official opening of the Second Cohort Training on Tuesday, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.
Addressing participants on what they could expect from the BADMC, the executing arm of the FEED programme, he said: “I can tell all of you this morning with every degree of confidence that you will not be so motivated to produce if you don’t know who is going to buy it from you. And these are the things that we are grappling with.
“To make sure that when this programme is executed, you are not just planting and growing for the sake of so doing, but that you are doing so with a purpose and that purpose must be driven through the plans of the BADMC to get involved in further agro-processing using cassava to produce flour; sweet potato to produce our sweet potato porridges, and other things…. We are going to get comfortable doing agro-processing and making sure that all of you are producing for a purpose.”
He also told participants that a business plan was being prepared for the BADMC, and the entity was set to launch a marketing department.
“The business plan is going to make sure that we take BADMC to the point where you, if you plant okras, you know whatever acreage you are using; how much is going to the BADMC that can be processed and is going to the diaspora. So, that they now are going to launch a marketing department that is going to reach out to the diaspora. And, why are we doing this? We are doing this because we recognise that primary agriculture cannot sustain us. Most of what we are doing right now are hobbyist activity, and a farmer will not be motivated unless he can increase production and see clearly how he is making money. And, that is the role of a BADMC.
The FEED programme, which was started in 2019, with funding of $2 million, is being executed over a three-year period. It will see participants trained in various systems of agriculture, including apiculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, open field crop production, greenhouse management, livestock production and agroforestry.