Image: Ministry of Agriculture
Patrons attending next year’s Agro-fest can expect greater insight into the work of the Barbados Agricultural Development & Marketing Corporation (BADMC), as that agency uses that forum to give greater visibility to its work and contribution to the local agricultural sector.
This comes as the BADMC, which has been servicing the agricultural fraternity for the past 15 years, seeks to debunk the myth that the extent of its contribution to Barbados is the supply of chicken wings.
“We are trying to get our work in the public domain and let people know what we are all about since we seem to be only known as the agency that supplies chicken wings,” explained BADMC’s Agrofest committee chairman, Edmund Brathwaite, who also revealed plans to stimulate greater interest in agriculture among the youth through a poster competition.
To this end, patrons visiting the BADMC’s 40×40 ft. booth will be treated to a live interactive display under the theme: ‘Reviving Agriculture through Technology’ , which will be both informative and educational. Some of the agency’s principal products including prime local beef and lamb cuts, as well as cassava flour and derivative dishes, and the range of services offered by the corporation will also be highlighted. Patrons will also be able to see the vital linkages between its various departments and farmers.
Observing that for the past four years their contribution to Agrofest had simply been that of “displaying products and allowing patrons to walk in and walk back out,” Mr. Brathwaite, who is also an Irrigation Engineer, said next year’s offering would be quite different from previous years, with the interactive exhibit featuring the collaborative work of the Irrigation, Extension, Food Promotion and Meat Departments, as well as the Land for the Landless programme.
A model depicting the theme, ‘From Well to Farm’, from the Irrigation Department, will be the first thing seen by persons entering the BADMC booth. Inclusive of pumps, meters, valves, electrical panels and controls, it will demonstrate how water is extracted from wells and taken to farms, the domain of the Extension Services Department.
The work of the Extension Services Department will be encapsulated in a five –bed farm model (garden) displaying water conservation techniques through the use of a tensiometer, which operates similar to the roots of plants. Mulching techniques that can be used for water conservation will also be displayed as well as on-farm irrigation and sprinkler systems, sponsored by one of the island’s leading suppliers of irrigation equipment.
This aspect of the exhibition will also feature a bio-digester display which utilises pen (chicken turkey) and cow manure to generate electricity and fuel for cooking, in keeping with the Unit’s attempt to promote its usage among farmers.
The link between Extension Services and the Food Promotion Unit will be seen as the methane gas produced in the bio-digester is used to cook various BADMC’s branded products. These include cassava pancakes from cassava flour produced by the BADMC; cassava bakes; and burgers and kebabs using local beef and lamb from the corporation.
Unlike what obtained before, when local meats were displayed simply to highlight their existence, efforts will now be made to educate persons about the origins of their favourite cuts. Mr. Brathwaite explained that on site carving displays of lamb and beef carcasses would be done by one of the corporation’s “expert butchers”, who will also be conducting educational and informative talks.
BADMC’S Land for the Landless Programme will also be featured and, according to the BADMC Agrofest Committee Chairman, provision would be made for persons with queries to get more information about the programme as well as general information on farming techniques.
Attempts will also be made to respond to farmers’ requests for assistance in accessing markets for their produce, through the promotion of Agricast – a computer forecasting programme which allows persons in the industry to go online and see what produce will be coming on the market, in what quantities and at what time.
“So, we will be encouraging persons from supermarkets, hotels and restaurants to use this system in an effort to provide viable markets for farmers… I believe they want to buy local produce, but they want a dedicated supply.”
In commenting on BADMC’s plans, Agrofest Coordinator, Theodore Fraser, said he was happy to be working with the corporation in this effort, which tied in with Agrofest’s vision of promoting excellence in agriculture.
“It provides an excellent opportunity for school children to see that agriculture is not only about the back breaking hoe and fork agriculture that their grandparents endured, but also about modern technology.
“I am pleased that the corporation would see the benefits of using Agrofest as the arena to demonstrate their products and services given the level of participation from our patrons who range from young children to grannies,” he noted.
Agrofest comes off on February 27 – March 1 next year under the theme: ‘Agrofest…going green.’