The following article was submitted by Peter Webster to the Nation newspaper and is yet to be published – Barbados Underground
The article titled “Let Farmers use idle land” in the Sunday Sun 24.09.17 which claimed that “marijuana growers were constantly taking advantage of unused plantation land left bare by privileged plantation owners” is misleading social mischief. Barbados produces very little marijuana, probably less than five acres per year. Most is imported. The facts are:
- There are currently more than 1,000 acres of idle, uncultivated, small (less than 10 acre) agricultural lots in Barbados. Not just plantation lands are idle. Why?
- Most farmers in Barbados suffer from a lack of water (rain and or irrigation) to grow their food and vegetable crops other than those planted in September to November;
- The Minister of Agriculture once asked a stakeholders meeting of farmers what their problems were. They unanimously responded that their major problems were “praedial” larceny, “praedial” larceny and “praedial” larceny… What has this government done about praedial larceny? Do the marijuana growers have a praedial larceny problem?
- Sugar cane and grass for forage are the only large, field scale crops that can otherwise be grown and they are currently financial losers with an uncertain future. If we could fix the problems of the large field scale crops we would not have any idle land;
- The Barbados food and vegetable crop market is limited and this limits the acreage that can be grown in these crops. That is why food and vegetable crops often encounter saturated markets, with the farmers suffering financial losses;
- The Government managed plantation lands of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) and the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) have been targeted by the marijuana growers as much as the so called “privileged plantation owner lands” and those Government managed lands suffer as much, if not more so, from praedial larceny as any others. The marijuana growers look for the least secure areas;
- The foremost idle plantation lands in Barbados are under judicial management. Are those lands privileged?
- Marijuana growers have such a lucrative market that they are prepared to cart buckets of water to any hidden nook and cranny, with little regard to cost, in order to grow their high value marijuana and they are not just targeting idle lands but have also used plots within cultivated (sugar cane) fields;
- They may be lots of people wanting land to farm in Barbados, but it is a myth that there are lots of “farmers” in Barbados waiting to get agricultural land to cultivate. The results of Government “land lease” and failed “land for landless” projects is that four out of every five (80%) of those so called “farmers” have failed.
- The problem with leasing agricultural land in Barbados is that there is no civil justice. The last land owner who needed to remove a tenant took 17 years before the court and high costs to do so.