A visiting delegation from the French Caribbean territory of Martinique is presently in Barbados to explore the possibilities for further cooperation between the two islands in the agricultural sector.

And, Acting Chief Agricultural Officer, Ralph Farnum, is of the view that such a visit augurs well for the farming community of both nation, particularly in the development and improvement of agricultural technology such as greenhouses.

Mr. Farnum was speaking this morning during a press briefing at the Ministry of Agriculture, Graeme Hall, Christ Church, following the delegation’s tour of the Southern Meats Abattoir at Balls Plantation, Christ Church and the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation’s (BADMC) Agro Processing Facility at the Grantley Adams Industrial Estate, Seawell, Christ Church.

"The training for greenhouse technology, particularly its operation and sustainability, those aspects we need to hone in on. To have people trained at that level, not only in terms of the structure but in terms of areas such as disease control, temperature and nutrient balances…You need to have people aware of the requirements…so that we can go forward in terms of increasing our productivity and so forth," he said.

The 70-plus member group comprised several persons who are involved in the Martiniquan agricultural sector including farmers, agronomists, agro processors and heads and members of agricultural cooperatives.

Noting that both countries shared similar ecological and economical characteristics, Mr. Farnum suggested that the sharing of information could be vital as both countries sought to overcome the challenges of the global marketplace including rising food prices and climate change.

According to him, the use of different types of grass as alternatives to feed for livestock was another area where Barbados and Martinique could work closer together to help decrease the growing bill for animal feed.

"That is one of the areas that we need to work on; foraging, the use of [alternative] grasses and legumes for feeding livestock. As you would know the feed prices have been skyrocketing since the drought so we are embarking on a programme to test forages and if there are any grasses which you are using in this regard, we could look to work together to meet that need," Mr. Farnum said.

Spokesperson, Lucien Ardenet, in thanking the Ministry for its hospitality, also suggested that closer ties could be developed through the cooperative movement since several persons in the visiting group were involved in the management of such associations.

He also noted that the potential was there for both countries to strengthen their ties in the agricultural sector and the visit would be a tremendous opportunity for the sharing of knowledge and information.

During their stay, the delegation will also visit the Sugar Cane Breeding Station at Groves, St. George; the Greenland Livestock Station, Greenland, St. Andrew; the BADMC’s land lease project at Spring Hall, St. Lucy and the Bridgetown Fish Market, among other sites.


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