There was an article in Barbados Today of 16th.February 2019 entitled “Dumped.” In the article Mr. James Paul bemoans the fact that the two largest sponsors have jumped ship.
In 1971 as a final year student in agriculture at the University of the West indies, St. Augustine Campus;Tom Henderson, Professor of Agricultural Extension had the following to say about agricultural exhibitions: he considered them to be expensive and ineffectual in getting persons interested in agriculture. He admitted that exhibitions (Agrofest is an exhibition) were glittery but were not good at getting results. Instead, he pointed out that it was better to utilize “method demonstrations”when trying to influence persons to take up a career in agriculture. In method demonstrations, the extension officer works intimately with a small group, demonstrating lets say on how to bud and graft fruit trees, getting them to actively participate in the process. (I actually did this at Soil Conservation and trained lots of people to bud and graft and even published an extension bulletin on the topic, so I am speaking from personal experience here).
Last year after Agrofest, Paul was interviewed by David Ellis on Down to Brass Tacks. Ellis wanted to know what were the long term goals for Agrofest and agriculture as seen from Paul’s perspective. Paul spewed out the usual spiel about getting drying facilities for onions and so on. Dr. Brian Eavis did all of what Paul was talking about in late 1960’s and early1970’s. Not surprisingly, there was no vision on Paul’s part. There was no plan for thirty years down the road. For example like increasing yield of alcohol from molasses by either genetic modification or by selective pressure on strains of yeast and at the same time maintaining the same flavour profile. Barbados is in a competitive world; other countries are trying to increase their competitive edge in the rum industry. As Dr. Frank Ward recently said, the future of sugar industry is rum not sugar.
Agriculture locally, is permeated by square pegs in round holes. There are the ridiculous cases of former policemen and account clerks with no specialized training in agriculture holding down a high post in government corporations and else where; who keep a lot of noise.
Robert D. Lucas, PH.D and CFS
Certified Food Scientist