Protective agriculture could benefit the Barbadian agricultural sector significantly.
This is the belief of Associate Professor at the Centre for Regional Services and Integration in Protected Agriculture (CRESIAP) in Mexico, Dr. Jaimie Santillan.
He was speaking recently at the close of a four-day workshop held for farmers, agricultural researchers, and students from the Ministry of Agriculture???s Agri-preneurship Incubator programme.
Protective agriculture is the term used to describe the modification of an environment to attain the maximum growth of crops, thereby enhancing food and nutrition security. This is done through the use of greenhouses, row covers, garden covers, among other techniques, to control the environment of the crop.
Dr. Santillan is of the view that the flat nature of the island made Barbados a prime location to utilise more protective agricultural techniques. ???It is the way forward for Barbados and I believe it would be able to produce enough food to feed all of the country and even to export.
“When you start exporting, the country starts getting profits and benefits. Right now, I think that if everything goes well ??? and the government and private entities invest in this technology, in five to six years you can speak of exporting products,??? he indicated.
The Associate Professor said that through these types of technologies, farmers would not only be able to produce more, but also benefit from utilising techniques such as hydroponics, as they would be able to control the nutrition and the temperatures in their greenhouses.
He added that protective agriculture did not have to be expensive, and that farmers and agricultural experts had the opportunity to utilise various methods, making it as costly or as cheap as they would like. He also believed that many Barbadian farmers had greenhouses but were not aware of how to use them effectively.
???You have the greenhouses but you haven???t been told how to use them, how to get the best out of it, and that is what these programmes are for, to show people how to make these greenhouses work, how to get the best out of each square meter, how to produce the most out of it,??? he added.
Extension Officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Anthony Phillips, thanked the organisers of the course, stating that the information benefited him significantly, and that if used correctly, protective agriculture could benefit the island considerably.
???I think now I am much more equipped to deal with the greenhouses I???m tasked with??? The knowledge I have gained in the last week I think I would now be able to help more farmers who want to get involved with greenhouse technology,??? he remarked.
Thirty-three persons participated in the workshop, which was a joint partnership between the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and CRESIAP, in association with the Ministry of Agriculture???s Agri-preneurship Incubator Programme.