Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, is optimistic that the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) will be a positive catalyst in the development of the local agricultural sector.
The three-year programme was officially launched on Monday night at Sunbury Plantation House in St. Philip. It was developed by the ministry and is being managed by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Cooperation (BADMC).
Created as part of efforts to counteract the island’s high food import bill, FEED will provide mentorship and other necessary inputs, such as access to land, to participants. The overall aim is to create a sustainable and viable agricultural sector.
As he addressed the attendees, Minister Weir said he was heartened at the response to FEED thus far, noting that 56 per cent of applicants were under the age of 45.
This, according to him, was significant, given that “we are relying on that generation to further agricultural development, and by extension the economic growth of Barbados”.
He, however, acknowledged that younger persons, though interested, may be turned off from agriculture as it entailed “hard, physical work”. Nonetheless, he expressed the view that this could be changed through exposure to the various advances in agricultural technologies.
And, it was against this background that he highlighted that training would be provided in non-traditional farming methods, such as temperature controlled greenhouses and containers.
“Every effort will certainly be made by BADMC…as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to enhance the technical knowledge and resources of all participating farmers, to generate or maintain their interest in agriculture,” Minister Weir emphasized.
Noting government’s intention to “develop a sustainable agricultural production and marketing system to boost economic and social development”, he added that BADMC was carrying out research and analyses to ensure farmers would have access to markets for their produce.
“BADMC is already engaging with other government agencies and with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association to secure their involvement with the procurement of local commodities produced under the FEED Programme,” the Minister disclosed.
He added that this information would be used to design planting schedules to prevent gluts.
Minister Weir also called on the private sector to support local agriculture in whatever way possible.
Additionally, he indicated that private landowners interested in leasing lands for the FEED programme should contact the BADMC, as it was “willing to facilitate arrangements for contracts to be drawn up directly between the landowner and farmer. In that way, farmers and landowners alike would benefit”.
Minister Weir also praised the teams at both his ministry and the BADMC, and other stakeholders for their dedication to developing the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive, adding that he looked forward to their continued support and commitment.
In that way, farmers and landowners alike would benefit”. Minister Weir also praised the teams at both his ministry and the BADMC, and other stakeholders for their dedication to developing the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive, adding that he looked forward to their continued support and commitment.