Government is embarking on a programme aimed at ensuring food and nutrition security, while fostering entrepreneurship within the agricultural sector.
This initiative is the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED), a three-year programme conceptualized by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, and his team at the ministry.
It focuses on boosting primary agricultural production through the combination of traditional and contemporary farming methods.
The objectives of government’s flagship agricultural development programme include: the facilitation of the sustainable development of the agricultural sector through improved access to land and other necessary inputs, and the creation of employment opportunities, particularly among vulnerable groups, including women and the youth. It also aims to increase net foreign exchange earnings through increased agricultural exports.
Participants will receive hands-on training in several areas from the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), the entity responsible for the management of FEED.
These include: open field cultivation, temperature controlled container farming, apiculture (beekeeping), animal husbandry, hydroponics, aquaculture, Blackbelly sheep rearing; and fish farming. They will also be taught the basics skills critical to running an effective farming operation, such as business planning, customer service, record keeping, and sales and marketing.
Training will be conducted over a three-month period, and upon completion, participants will graduate to the next stage of FEED, which is the “startup” component. This consists of a land lease arrangement, under which they will have access to irrigation, seedlings, equipment, marketing and other services provided by the BADMC. Extension Officers will also be on hand to assist.
The Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive targets retrenched public servants, women, at risk youth and agricultural cooperatives with little or no access to land. However, persons 18 years and older, who are interested in agriculture, are welcomed to register to be a part of the programme.
As it relates to selection criteria, no agricultural experience is necessary, although it would be an asset. However, one must not currently own or lease agricultural land.