Government has approved $5.9 million under the Water Augmentation Programme to bring relief to farmers in St. Philip and St. Lucy experiencing water problems, as a result of drought and excess rainfall.
Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Phillips, made this disclosure before officially launching the second National Pesticide Container Management Scheme at the Spring Hall Land Lease Project in St. Lucy on Wednesday.
Mr. Phillips explained that farmers’ challenges were twofold – excess water from run off during heavy rainfall and a lack of water during the dry season.
However, the Minister gave the assurance that the Ministry was actively pursuing the construction of two water catchment areas with a total capacity of 132 million of water to capture the surface runoff in the area.
Those catchments, he said, were to the east of the main road to Crab Hill and the other to the south of the ridge road to Greenidges.
“We are confident that the measures being implemented will go a long way in alleviating the water problems that have been plaguing the farms in this area for far too long,” Mr. Phillips outlined, while noting that the Ministry was waiting on a final report from the Stantec study for consideration.
However, he urged farmers to comply with the protocols associated with the disposal of pesticide containers to minimise threats to Barbados’ national food and nutrition security.
“While recognising the need to maximise agricultural output with the aid of pesticides, we are here to advocate for the proper disposal of empty pesticide containers in order to safeguard the health and well-being of our farmers and members of our community,” he said.
The Minister urged farmers to exercise “care and responsibility” during the disposal of their pesticide containers, warning that if left lying around in fields, the remnants could result in the contamination of crops, be easily obtained by persons, especially children, and result in unintentional poisoning.
Mr. Phillips explained that the scheme was launched at the first two farms because farmers consented to a survey last year, which informed the direction of the scheme.
He also praised the Food and Agricultural Organization for working with the Ministry to bring awareness about the hazard, and to promote the scheme.
The Spring Hall Land Lease Project has the largest concentration of land lease farmers in the north of the island, with 50 farmers operating on 406 acres of land.