The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is stepping up its training programmes for farmers; this time, meeting them on their own turf and focusing on their specific needs.

According to Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Michael Hunte, the Ministry would be hosting a series of joint seminars in collaboration with the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) in an effort to address the express needs of farmers in particular locations.

“We plan to move the training seminars across the island, staging at least two per month with a change of topics based on perceived problems in various areas,” he explained.

Mr. Hunte was speaking at the inaugural training seminar hosted by the extension units of the Ministry and the BADMC, held at the Springhall Land Lease Project in St. Lucy, where a cross-section of farmers from St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. James and St. Andrew learnt more about safe pesticide use and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

In speaking to the collaborative approach, he said the training was being offered in the spirit of cooperation and in an attempt to avoid duplication by the extension officers.

Officer in charge of the Ministry’s Extension Unit, Lemuel Collymore, noted that while previous training efforts were on a one-to-one basis, they were now moving towards group training on a range of topics.

“Farmers appear to be more interested in this type of training and topics will be selected based on their specific needs,” he explained, observing that training was  nothing new and had been a facet of the Ministry’s outreach over the years.

Mr. Collymore said the next session would be staged at the Glebe Resource Centre in St. George, and would focus on livestock farming, in particular scouring  (disease) in  piglets  and nutrition. This training, he explained, would especially target farmers from the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Michael and St. George.

"We are dealing with the problems which we are seeing in the particular parishes. For instance, we will be focusing on how to deal with the rat population in the south of the island. This matter will be specifically geared towards farmers in the parishes of Christ Church, St. Philip and the southern part of St. John.”

In welcoming the joint initiative, BADMC’s Agricultural Manager, Ronnie Brathwaithe commended the decision to go out to farmers in the field.

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