The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, Indar Weir and Chief Agriculture Officer, Keeley Holder, cut the ribbon to open the Brown’s Pond reservoir at River Plantation in St. Philip while Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley observes (right). The opening of this reservoir will provide farmers in the area with water to irrigate crops. (F. Belgrave/BGIS)

Farmers within the catchment area of Brown’s Pond at River Plantation, St. Philip, will soon be able to better contribute to Barbados’ food security with the completion of the River Plantation Catchment project.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security Indar Weir, and Chief Agriculture Officer, Keeley Holder, cut the ribbon to declare the reservoir open, in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley; President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Dr. Mohammad Irfaan Ali, other local and regional dignitaries.

In his address, Mr. Weir explained that the initiative was initially considered in 2018, coming out of a meeting with farmers in the area, who were facing a two-fold challenge.

“When it rained too much everything got washed away and then when it didn’t rain at all everything dried up and died,” he recalled.

The Agriculture Minister further noted that the Three Houses Spring, which naturally supplies the farmers in the area with water, had a number of catchment areas set up by residents who live along its natural flowing route, therefore putting those farmers downstream at an “extreme disadvantage”.

“All their crops were compromised during the drought periods and you know that with climate change, the drought periods now are longer than they used to be in the past,” he explained.

As a result, the Minister added, following a meeting with the affected farmers and residents, Prime Minister Mottley took a decision to develop the catchment area so that all of those farmers downstream could get access to water.

The Brown’s Pond Reservoir at River Plantation in St. Philip. (F. Belgrave/BGIS)

Thanking the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation for the completion of the project, Mr. Weir noted that apart from food security, his Ministry had the additional mandate of ensuring nutritional security.

“With the amount of NCD’s that we are confronted by in Barbados, it is equally important that when we address food security we address nutrition as well, and that is the reason why our agenda is so large in agriculture….

“What we have to do now is to make sure that food is provided for every citizen of this country, those who visit Barbados for a holiday, and those who are here as students in our universities…. It is important for us to be able to provide food on a consistent basis, but at the same time, healthy food,” he maintained.

The Agriculture Minister added that that “parallel track” would determine how the country set its agenda in achieving the target of reducing CARICOM’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.

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