The second cohort in the Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) programme were today encouraged to view themselves as part of the team at the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC).
The appeal came today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael, as the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security officially opened the 12-week training that will be mainly conducted online this year.
Minister in the Ministry, Peter Phillips, while noting that the FEED programme aimed to reduce agricultural imports and ensure national food and nutrition security, said: “This programme accommodates you, persons who have an interest or perhaps in some instances may come into the programme as a novice in relation to farming. What happens is that there are persons who will train you over a period of time so that you come up to mark as to where you are and where you want to go….
“You [may] have a little can in your backyard or a little tyre and you [may] plant some seasoning or some chives or perhaps a sweet pepper tree or two, but now all that is happening is that you are just moving that from the backyard into an open field. And you are not just only doing open field because the FEED programme is about other things. It’s about aquaponics, hydroponics, greenhouse management…all of these are aspects of the FEED programme.
“So it is not just about the open field crop cultivation. What I want you to see it as, though, is your opportunity to contribute to national development and to make an input into your country.”
Pointing out that there were two beneficiaries of the FEED initiative, he said: “You benefit as farmers because you get to establish yourself and become an entrepreneur – what you sell belongs to you – but at the same time it benefits the country because … the country does not have to import and spend important foreign exchange.”
Mr. Phillips also told the participants that the BADMC would be receiving 40 per cent of what they grow, giving them a ready market. He also assured them that the Ministry and BADMC personnel would be in constant contact with them, and would visit their farms, from time to time.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the BADMC, Dr. Brian Francis, described the FEED programme as a flagship initiative of the Ministry that is aimed at transforming agriculture, and urged participants to see it as an investment.
“You want to use this as an opportunity to empower yourself … to grow and develop and become a successful businessman – a businessman involved in agriculture,” he said, as he stressed its success was dependent upon them working with the Ministry and helping to resolve any problems along the way with the team from the BADMC.
The FEED programme was established in April 2019, and is being executed over a three-year period. It will accommodate persons with a desire to establish agricultural enterprises in a variety of farming systems.