All Barbadians must be part of the ownership structure of the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, emphasised this on Tuesday, as he addressed participants in the second round of training under the Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED), at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC), Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.
The Minister, who expressed pleasure at the large numbers of persons present at the LESC, said he was grateful they had come forward to serve their country by making a difference under the FEED programme.
“My view as Minister is that all Barbadians must now be at a point where you can share in the economic pie of this country,” he stressed.
He lamented that there were too many Barbadians who had resigned themselves to being somebody’s employee, and had not challenged themselves to be entrepreneurs. He said this represents a failing in Barbadian society, where they were unsure of whether to be employer or employee.
He urged participants to look within and determine how much they could achieve by being part of the FEED programme.
Mr. Weir said he was pleased that there were several young persons, and noted that in the age category 18 to 25, there were 27 participants; in the 26 to 40, 94 participants; in the 41 to 50, 53 participants and in the 51 to 70, 26 participants.
“Now what does this tell us? It is telling us that the programme is achieving its objectives at the point of application, whether or not that will hold true is entirely dependent on you, and I urge all of you to understand that there is nowhere in Barbados that you go into training, you are assigned training modules, free of cost.
“On graduation, you are assigned land that you do not have to look for; you are given the start-up kits with the inputs to get going, in whatever you choose; and then you are allowed post-harvest to tap into the BADMC pack house, as a first start to market access. I can’t think of any greater way to empower and to enfranchise people.”
In reviewing the success of last year’s FEED programme, Minister Weir said the first cohort was around 110, and 95 per cent of them would have already received their start up kits and would have been placed. However, he acknowledged that there had been some delays and attributed these to the time that it would have taken to transfer land from ministry to ministry, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and drought conditions.