The Adrian Loveridge Column – Agriculture Connection

During 8th to 13th of October 2018 Barbados will host the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which has been described as the region’s premier agricultural event of the regional calendar. The declared theme is stated as ‘strengthening agriculture for a healthier future in the region’. Throughout the week ‘farmers, policymakers, youth, experts in the field of agriculture and other stakeholders, will participate in activities aimed at chartering the regions path in the important sector’.

The activities include a trade show and exhibition – market Place 2018 – seminars, workshops, field trips and a special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Agriculture (COTED).

As someone who is passionate about using more foodstuffs sourced locally and regionally and allied products in our tourism industry, I wish the event, all the very best.

While I understand the need to import vast quantities of visitor consumables in refrigerated containers, it does little or nothing to help grow our indigenous agricultural sector, either locally or across the Caribbean.

I graphically recall my first visit to Dominica where I witnessed literally thousands of ripe mangos rotting on the ground, while premium prices were still being paid here.

While operating our hotel and being unable to purchase locally grown mangos, we ordered the only available alternatives, which turned out to be tinned mangos imported by Thailand, at least 10,137 miles away by air and considerably longer by sea.

Surely, it is not above the collective ability of our manufacturers and distributors to can those otherwise wasted mangos into whole fruit or puree that could be used in any number of ways?

Years ago the worldwide consumer product giant, Colgate Palmolive operated a small subsidiary, also on Dominica which produced natural coconut soap, a firm favourite with our guests.

I am absolutely convinced there are many more opportunities like these two examples and as Dominica and other Caribbean territories recover from the devastation of Maria and other hurricanes, isn’t it our moral duty to foster greater trade co-operation?

I have singled out Dominica especially, as it has clearly demonstrated its ability to feed its own population with one of the highest percentages of food self-sufficiency in the region, reputedly 80 per cent, coupled with one of the lowest per capita food import bills.

While writing this column, I read for the first time about the Canadian Government funded agency, PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprise and Linkages),whose declared aims include increasing the value of Caribbean fresh produce by accessing high-value markets in the Caribbean.

According to various media reports, ‘PROPEL is working with private sector buyers, producers, business service providers and other market actors to facilitate the safe, effective and efficient movement of fresh produce from the farm level to market’.

Could this be a perfect model for us to work with and emulate to finally bring our farmers and tourism partners together for mutual benefit?

Private Sector Disengagement Challenging Development

Submitted by William Skinner

Our private sector has never been the engine of growth. It has never indicated any earnest desire to accept such a role. Since independence, it would be very difficult, to identify, a period where our private sector, both traditional and current, drove the growth engine.

Ever since the decline of the plantocracy, successive governments, have been the true engineers of economic development. A glaring example of the private sector’s deviancy was the housing sector boom of the post-independence period, when the traditional private sector refused, to engage in any broad-based effort, in public housing for lower income groups.

Agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and to some degree construction, were systematically underperforming because the sector, was mainly concerned with maintaining low wages and engaging in protracted battles with the powerful Barbados Workers Union (BWU). It can be safely argued that the sector was also very reluctant to employ and or promote, the new generation of university graduates, who could have brought a new thinking to the sector. This colonialist attitude resulted in very talented blacks being denied prominence in the board rooms.

The strident criticism of the last government’s generous concessions to the Sandals group, were fuelled by the same private sector, that could not develop a product such as Sandals. Successive governments have bent over backwards to please the pathetic assortment of whiners, within our private sector, who act as if they have never made a penny in profit and apparently believe that the public must underwrite their investments.

Our corporate power houses were interested in nothing more than retail operations and enjoyed the luxury of exploiting consumers, when natural disasters such as hurricanes occurred, and they could increase the prices of basic items such as sardines, bread and milk! That was the extent of their thinking and approach to national economic development.

Our prime industry tourism fell victim to a lethargic and incompetent private sector, that refused to invest heavily in marketing the country and left the demanding work to successive governments, that in turn populated overseas agencies with party sycophants, who knew little or nothing about promoting the product. There was no symbiosis between agriculture and the tourism industry. This meant that a considerable portion of the foreign exchange earned usually found its way out of the country, to maintain the industry.

This unpatriotic sector executed its final betrayal, when it sold one of our most powerful corporate entities, Barbados Shipping and Trading (BST) to foreign interests. BST was a powerful entity that acted as its own government. At one time it managed several estates and allowed them to become run down, rather than invest in the agro-industry. The true history of this organization will reveal it was steeped in unpatriotic corporate practices and rather than innovate and move toward new investments, that would have utilized emerging technological tools, it opted to engage in the greatest act of corporate cowardice by selling out.

As the new government rides on tremendous goodwill, it would do well to read the riot act to our private sector and inform it, that the same way it cannot be business as usual for the civil servants and the citizens, as we go through tough economic times, it cannot be the same for the private sector. It is time that it be told in no uncertain terms to step up to the plate.

Former Prime Minister, Owen Arthur once told the sector that it represented a pack of whiners; another Prime Minister, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, once had to remind the sector that he was not elected in a boardroom. Another former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told them that if they wanted to dictate how the country was managed, they should consider running for office.

In recent times the same sector was in the forefront of marches organized by trade unions against a government. There is an old saying: “He who helps you buy a big guts cow or horse does not always help you feed it.”

A word to the wise.

Is Agriculture and Food Security Important?


Indar Weir, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

The Ministry of Agriculture under the leadership of David Estwick in the former government became an invisible ministry. While we accept that a lack of resources would have impacted how government carried out its business, a nation that relegates food security to the back burner should expect to be haunted by the decision in a volatile global sphere.

How difficult is it to cultivate linkages between locally produced agriculture, tourism, government (Barbados School Meals, Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and the wider community to guarantee sufficient demand? What is the scorecard of the Barbados Agriculture Society (BAS)? The output from the agriculture sector based on the central bank reports tracking GDP by Sector and Acticity has not shown any appreciable increase in the last decade.

A few weeks ago BU family member Bentley Norville shared the following document to poke those currently responsible to prioritized matters pertaining to agriculture. We hope current minister of agriculture and FOOD SECURITY Indar Weir takes heed.

Idle Agricultural Land: Do Marijuana Growers Have a Praedial Larceny Problem?

The following article was submitted by Peter Webster to the Nation newspaper and is yet to be published – Barbados Underground

The Agriculture sector continues to be in a state of drift under the leadership of Minister of Agriculture David Estwick and CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul.

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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;
  3. 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?
  4. 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;
  5. 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;
  6. 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;
  7. The foremost idle plantation lands in Barbados are under judicial management. Are those lands privileged?
  8. 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;
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

UWI, Cave Hill to LEAD the Charge to Revive Agriculture Sector

The press report did not list minister of Agriculture David Estwick as among the officials present when the announcement was made this week by Professor Eudene Barriteau.

Professor Eudene Barriteau, Principal of the UWI, Cave Hill campus committed the Cave Hill campus to developing 30 acres of land that was donated to the university by the Edghills of Dukes plantation in St. Thomas a couple years ago. According to the report USD34 million will be spent to develop an agri-business creating 1500 jobs, a break from the trend of planting concrete on arable land in Barbados. Further, the entity will be designed to facilitate training and research for the Caribbean region. One could hear the enthusiasm for the venture by Principal Barriteau as she shared details about what promises to be a transformative project.

The project is to kickoff mid-next year!

She said the project, which is expected to take about two years to complete, would also accelerate the thrust towards greater self-sustainability in food production and food security with a significant portion of the almost 30 acres of land being set aside as agricultural parcels for farming. In addition, the park will accommodate agro-processing and meat-curing facilities, a chocolate manufacturing and training facility, cotton processing facilities, a food standards laboratory, a sewerage plant treatment and recreational spaces…

The project is being funded by the Government of Barbados through its bilateral aid programme with the People’s Republic of China.

Barbados Today

This is good news indeed to observe the premier learning institution in Barbados leading the charge to resuscitate the agriculture sector. The economic pundits have all slammed the door of Barbados pursuing agriculture because of high production costs. We will monitor the debate with interest.

Barbados Losing the War

Of recent North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un has become the focal point of USA’s foreign policy.

Not long ago it was Saddam Hussein of Iraq, a country that was invaded based on a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction stupid!  The wonton destruction of property dated  to the  period of Babylonia is enough to challenge those with the strongest faith that there is a God.

We should not forget General Muammar Gaddafi of Libya who was ‘taken out’ because he dared to buck the establishment. All knowledgeable observers agree that Gaddafi was no saint if  a Western definition is applied, the BU counter is that leading a country in the Middle East requires an alternative approach to governing in much the same way the West appears to have accepted a communist system of government in China.

Another ‘bad man’ is Syria’s Bashar Hafez al-Assad reported by the Western media as using chemical weapons on his people. Up until 2010 Assad was viewed as a respectable leader in the ME until he took a contrary position on Arab Spring protesters. The world community slammed the door on Syria and a civil war has been fought since that time. We weep at the thousands of civilians killed, the destruction of ancient cities and relic. However, one has to wonder to what extent the decimation of a country mentioned in the Bible is as a result of an ME foreign policy by the West gone bad.

Many Barbadians live lifes oblivious to the inter-connectivity of global economies and the immediate effect caused by the blurring of national boundaries. Although one has to ‘wonder’ at the thought of the only superpower proposing to go to war with North Korea, a lilliputian nation in comparative terms. Barbadians should be concerned that should a military event occur it would have catastrophic implications for Barbados and the region.  The impact on our economies as a result of 911 and the Iraq war are recent examples.

A key concern would be the disruption to international shipping lanes and the impact on the delivery of food and other essentials by a country that imports almost 700 million dollars worth. Not to mention the uncertainty caused by a significant military event on leisure travel.  No need to remind that Barbados must earn foreign exchange to pay its bills. Last check foreign reserves dipped to less than 10 weeks of import cover as at June 2017 or a smidgen over 300 million, the lowest since 2000.

Instead of promoting a national discussion about how we mobilize our people to tackle food security, we have to listen to head of the Barbados Agriculture Society (BAS) James Paul mouthing about gangs in his constituency, a prime minister attacking a spent force in Arthur and last but not to be forgotten, the deafening silence of David Estwick, minister of agriculture.

If after eight years of witnessing an economy struggling to achieve anemic economic growth and the social decay that has taken root evidenced by lawless members of the criminal underworld waving high-powered weapons in crowed areas is not enough to shape a more relevant narrative by civil society (including our political class), then may God have mercy on our souls..


Charting the Path to Food Security!

Submitted by Baird’s Village Aquaponics Association (BVAA)

This is an overview of the plan for the building of a privately owned aquaponics industry capable of providing 100% of Barbados’s locally consumed herbs and vegetables; We invite you to our open day on June 10th time 7 till 11 or 1 till 5 to take a close look at the future of local farming – click on the link to find the farm using Google Maps – . The Aquaponics machine is the open sourced solution for mainstream adaptation of a food production system independent of the global industrial agriculture complex. We must reach 2 tipping points in this journey to achieve market acceptance. 1500 persons must adopt hobby level systems and 700 persons must adopt semi commercial systems. I will tell you why below but first let me tell you why aquaponics is the solution.

The true cost of food is subsidized by outside market forces, what we pay for food is considerably less than the cost to produce the actual food. Farming is very difficult because farming is actually in a different sector of the economy from all other goods and services this is called the primary economy and this is evident in the fact that farmers pay retail for inputs and sell produce at wholesale price, the reverse of the secondary economy cash flow model which is to buy low add a profit and sell high.

Aquaponics works because of two factors, the first factor is because it is water based farming so the physical work of moving and processing manure on the farm is transferred from inefficient manual labor to precise electrical work of water pumps offering an exact monetary value for the work input to a farming system. When coupled with solar powered systems the payment amounts are below the current rates charged by the electrical company. The second factor is because 100% of the fish waste is reused as the main input for plant production. The efficiency of having two financial models operating with one input is what gives aquaponic systems the ability to operate without subsidies. And it has been proven to be culturally accepted mainly because of highly localized distribution networks.

Using a standardize 350 gallon component with a small footprint allows for little altering to the land and because of the water based nature of aquaponics there is little pollution therefore it is the only farming model capable of operation in residential areas. By using one standard 350 gall container it makes the complex dynamics of aquaponics adaptable by ratio, the basic one being 1 fish component to 4 plant components. It takes a minimum of 206 components in a network to produce minimal viable cash flow per operator.

It’s a long term investment; we have to sell 1500 hobby level systems to raise the resale value of the component to 50% of original cost. At this first topping point the market will be consuming enough fish feed to lower the cost to $1 per pound. Hobby level systems have a quick ROI of 4 years because they are competing against organic supermarket prices. The lower feed input cost will in turn be lowering return on investment for commercial investors in the wholesale market to 4 years making way for larger scale investment in the industry. At this secondary tipping point of 700 full time operators a computerized network with a centralized processing and supporting system can accurately predict 3 months of food production, securing sales.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – More Local Food

Adrian Loveridge

When I hear various vested interests lobby for the greater use of our tourism sector using more locally made and available product, I am a hundred percent behind this concept, but after almost three decades pursuing this ideal, I have to admit that it is not easy as it is made to sound.

It should not take five telephone calls, emails and Facebook messages and over week later still not possible to extract a wholesale price list. With a few notable exceptions many local companies do not even have or maintain a user friendly website and/or allow online orders and payments. Even when they do, so often you place an order, which sometimes is acknowledged and when the goods are not delivered in a timely manner, you chase and are told that the supplier is out or stock.

With so much speculation about the fragility of our economy and the frequent discussion about the possibility of devaluation, I would have thought that our local manufacturers and distributors would have gone into hyperdrive to fully exploit the increase in visitor arrival numbers and dramatically update their way of conducting business.

What also appears to frequently happen, is that companies will place what can only been deemed as expensive ‘ads’ either in the printed or online media and then when potential buyers respond through the email addresses shown, nothing further is heard.

We all understand the challenges of living on a small island, the time it takes to clear customs and the uncertainty of holding predictable sufficient stocks and supplies, but there has to be a better way.

While a direct comparison with giants like the online logistical trader, Amazon, is perhaps unfair, there must be room somewhere in-between to help minimise the time it takes to source, order and receive more locally made products. There is really no plausible excuse because we have the young tech savvy people on our doorstep to make it happen.

Frankly I shudder at the thought of devaluation and the devastating effect that it could have on our tourism sector. With a largely import dependent economy, it would make an already perceived expensive destination beyond reach for people in many of our markets. Perhaps the only saving grace would be to maintain and deposit our accommodation prices in US Dollars to offset inevitable higher operational and consumable costs.

But my guess this would only greatly increase what is already an alarming practice of collecting and processing payment offshore thereby further reducing Government revenue collection, notably VAT and corporation tax.

It must be clear that this has led to the disparity of higher arrival numbers and reduced on-island spending.

Our already nervous banks must realise that tourism and its ability to generate and maintain inflows of foreign exchange is the only possible way of eventually extracting ourselves out of the current fiscal malaise.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Visitors Prefer to Eat Local

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

I have spent much of the last week identifying any restaurants that currently are not in the re-DISCOVER lunch initiative to give them all an equal opportunity to participate in this promotion during 2017. Frankly what surprised me was the number of establishments’ who do not use what amounts to free social media opportunities to maximise basic details and inform potential clientele, such as opening times, closure days, email contact details and creatively use imagery to highlight eating options. Of course there are notable exceptions, which conversely use this form of advertising to get their product out there and tempt potential diners.

And why would you not, when a large part of social media is free for the taking and exploiting.

The recently concluded Restaurant Week Barbados reinforced the importance of quality high resolution images. Of course our visitors no longer rely totally on printed material, which is often not available until they physically arrive to do their research and homework. The vast majority of planning and preparation is now searched online prior to travel, ensuring the best use of their time.

As a destination it is also critically important that we further capitalise on our amazing number of varied eating places at all levels and price points. Perhaps this is also another area where our restaurants can be better supplied with local produce to reduce dependency on imported items.

For instance, do our more pro-active and organized farmers and growers have an existing database of all our licensed restaurants, where they can transmit a simple daily email flyer showing ‘what we can offer you this week’ with prices and quantities available?

This approach also may help even out the common problem of gluts and shortages.

For the individual restaurants, sourcing required items is usually a major bone of contention, certainly in our personal experience. All so often you order in the morning and when the delivery is made later that day, frequently items are ‘out of stock’ and you are left with just hours to spare, as to decide which alternatives could possibly be used that evening.

A common response from some of our existing suppliers and distributors has been in the past payment settlement challenges, but in this day of sophisticated technology, surely the cost of a wireless debit/credit card merchandiser onboard each delivery vehicle, where the items could be paid on delivery, would overcome this concern and justify the small outlay cost.

Frankly it has concerned me greatly for a long time that as a largely tourism dependent nation, we are so reliant on imported foods. Our visitors largely want to eat local foodstuffs. After all, they can virtually purchase all the items we choose to import, at a fraction of the price available here, from where they live at home.

If you look at just one of our major markets, each American consumes an average of 1,996 pounds, or nearly a ton of food per year, which is around 5.47 pounds per day, according to data produced the US Department of Agriculture. This annual amount includes 630 pounds of milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream and 185 pounds of chicken, turkey, pork and beef, seemingly with no mention of fish.

There is no reason to believe that our American visitors eat any less on holiday. In fact if they are staying at an all-inclusive property, it could well be more. So with an average US visitor stay of 7 days that amounts to almost 40 pounds of food per person. Multiply this by the annual number of US visitors and maybe you get a hint of our food importation bill and drain on foreign currency earnings.

The George Brathwaite Column – Agriculture is Vital, and so is our Youth

I am baffled by the national approach or lack thereof when it comes to a struggling agriculture sector and the high incidence of youth unemployment in Barbados. In fact, it was almost seven years ago when the then Barbados Minister of Agriculture, Haynesley Benn, speaking at the Launch of the Youth in Agriculture Programme, ‘Developing Agri-Preneurs’ stated that: “Agriculture is a vital part of our livelihood, contributing to our GDP, foreign exchange earnings, employment, food security and food sovereignty. It has close linkages to tourism and other sub-sectors. Yet, its sustainability is threatened by a number of factors. One significant factor is the lack of interest our youth has in agriculture.”

Now clearly, if in 2009 the Government understood the extent of the problem hampering Barbados with the potential to inhibit social development, it meant that solutions had to be found and programmes implemented. Everyone will agree that agriculture is important to the development of any nation. With Barbados having a high population density and limited land and other natural resources, this nation is even more challenged to cope and find effective solutions.

Therefore, it is important that the youth in Barbados are included not simply as passive participants but as active advocates, planners, and policymakers regarding the linkages to be found between their spaces and agricultural output. At the national level, we have to ask the serious question whether we have done enough to encourage our youth to contribute to agriculture production?

Additionally, has the Government working alone or in partnership with the private sector, provided ample incentives to advance agricultural development with focus on utilising the multi-talents of our youth? Many young people, on a daily basis, are saying that they have grown less inspired under the current administration. They find the dismal circumstances of joblessness unbearable.

Besides, it was the 2011 Draft Youth Policy that revealed the fundamental challenge facing Barbados, pointing on the youth’s desire to know “how to survive and prosper in a rapidly changing, highly competitive global market place.” The fact that globalisation has rendered more porous our borders and opened new avenues for doing business, means that we have to consistently encourage our youth to be involved locally, regionally, and internationally. Indeed, globalisation has brought new opportunities for many workers, especially those who are well educated, and having the skills demanded in the high-tech global economy. This is where Barbados’ food security and agriculture sector need to be expanded.

Nonetheless, globalisation has deepened insecurity and poverty for many others, including large numbers of our young people. Unfortunately, several of our young people do not have either the skills needed to compete or the means to acquire them. Providing our youth with work that is satisfying and the potential for earning decent incomes are paramount, even if this work is cast as a poverty-reduction strategy. To follow the established practice of talk and more talk, or to do little or nothing is a dereliction of duty. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has to halt the drift, and the Ministry of Agriculture must encourage youth participation in the sector.

It is fairly easy to accept that since the 2008 change of government in Barbados, there were several factors inclusive of recession that would have negatively impacted young people in dire need of work. The number of formal jobs available to young people became lesser as the DLP frustrated over the common sense of imposing higher and more draconian taxes in recessionary years.

We know from literature in the western world that the main struggle of young people is “to enter and remain in the labour market” and that, globally, “young people are three times more likely than adults to be out of a job.” It is not surprising then that over the last eight years in Barbados, rising unemployment in both the private and public sectors have hurt the prospects for the youth and more broadly, for the agricultural sector. Barbados achieved little or no economic growth between 2008 and 2016; and social and economic stagnation have held permanent resident status under the DLP in Barbados, thus inducing increased poverty.

Young people have been forced into the informal sector. While the informal sector is not necessarily a bad thing, there must still be the assistance provided by the state and its agencies for encouraging the development of entrepreneurial talents among young people. Instead of hundreds of acres of land at Pool, Wakefield, Todds and many other plantations laying idle or overgrown with bush and cow itch, young people can be allowed to set up teams working in a programme of ownership and enterprise. The young people can lease and bring these lands back into the cultivation of food crops.

Focussing on one solution will not bring wholesale success, but it may effectively contribute to achieving employment generation and inclusive growth within the economy. Entrepreneurship still persists in the psyche of Barbadians as an unwanted insecurity that is likely to incur too many unbearable risks. Clearly, both government and the private sector have definitive roles to play so that we do not fail our young people. We can ill afford to sacrifice our food security given the inherent challenges faced by small island developing states (SIDS).

Writing in a popular development journal, Professor Alice Amsden contends that: “To slay the dragon of poverty, deliberate and determined investments in jobs above starvation wages must play a central role, whether for self-employment or paid employment.” The implied significance of this statement is far-reaching, especially in the context that young people in Barbados are still struggling in 2016 to find and keep decent work.

Barbados’ agricultural sector has been left stranded by lack of imagination and idea-deficiency from the policymakers. What should have been a happy and rewarding marriage between opportunities in agriculture and job creation appears permanently fractured. In addition, the private sector is not sufficiently encouraged to maximise on youthful resources. There has to be an injection of urgency in responding to the needs of our young people and to redress the plight of agriculture.

Private sector development – formal and informal – has an important role to play in poverty reduction. The private sector, including small enterprises, creates and sustains the jobs necessary for poor people to work and earn the income needed to purchase goods and services. Small enterprise development contributes to poverty reduction when it creates employment and job creation provides income to the poor. The key contention is that agriculture is vital to our survival, and so is our youth.

(Dr. George C. Brathwaite is a researcher and political consultant, and up until recently, he was editor of Caribbean Times (Antigua). Email: )

Aquaponic Farming is Growing

Submitted by Damian Hinkson

AquaponicsWith a decade of experience in Aquaponic(AP) farming I am very happy to see AP systems now being created all over the island. The benefit of producing vegetables using fish manure rather than land animal’s or chemical fertilizers are many but the most attractive is the fact that your irrigation and fertilization is done automatically. Raising fish is virtually labour less In AP because as soon as the fish create waste in the water stream, it is pumped to a filter and broken down then quickly distributed to the plants where it is used as fertilizer. When compared to the physical labour, time and space involved to cleaning pens, pilling up manure until it has broken down then applying that to the soil it is easy to see why more people are interested in the instant results of AP systems.

Perhaps the biggest driving force of AP is timing, many in Barbados with vision will see in the near future domestic food production is the only way to be safe and secure. Along with the fact that we can now source cheap plastic and pumps that cost less than a fridge to run, interest is currently at an all time high and we at Baird’s Village Farms have worked hard to remove as many barriers to AP farming in Barbados as we can.

Without a doubt the science behind AP system design and the actual building of a system requires that the individual be intelligent, a handy person and also have the time and tools to dedicate towards the project. Also location specific information is not easily available to those who have not heard about us as yet. So we have designed a “ready done” AP system and in the process made it cheaper than if you were to put together a similar sized system.

For now AP is still new to Barbados and we need you to get the information out there to the people that matter. Please watch and share the slideshow and also give us some feed back in the comment section below as this is what makes us better and encourages us to keep going.

Solution for Praedial Larceny Minister Estwick

Submitted by Brian Frederick
Royal Barbados Police Force under the spotlight

Royal Barbados Police Force under the spotlight

WE see quite often soldiers out with police officers on patrol sometimes in Police vehicles or BDF vehicles.   One has to assume that the soldiers have a legal support role with the Police.   One also has to assume that as a former squadie the BDF soldiers are trained in counter insurgency, security and defence.   One also assumes that we have trained marksmen and that the BDF has night vision glasses.

So my suggestion is that the BDF carries out some night exercises which would include camouflaged  snipers with night vision glasses and rifles suitable for tranquilizer darts and radio communications to a police officer a mile or so away .   The  snipers could lie hidden in soon to be harvested crops likely to be targeted by thieves.    The thieves would be shot with the darts and rendered unconscious until the police arrive to arrest them.

WE shoot wild animals to save them with the same darts  with no ill effects.    The thief may have a puncture wound which is better than dead but at best he/she was trespassing and worst  they would steal something that has taken time and  care and ready for market.    Net result, practice for the BDF, arrest of the thief and jail or fine, crop saved and immediate reduction in further thefts due to the uncertainty of who is lying in wait in the darkness  and ready to shoot.

Use CLICO Wasteland to Drive New Agro-industries

Submitted by Bentley


Here’s an article with a comparison with olive oil. With all this abandoned agricultural land we have we could be growing these crops (using the permaculture method – see BU blog Support the Caribbean Permaculture Institute of Barbados) and initiating new agro-industries. A suggestion is for government to allow the use of some of its unused land for farming by small farmers on an equity basis and provide support services. Something similar to this was tried at Springhall Land Lease in St.Lucy and Land for the Landless in St.Andrew, both with limited success but neither thought through properly or personnel selected with sufficient scrutiny.  Such schemes can be successful if conceived and executed properly and with the right incentives.

Related Link: Olive Oil Versus Avocado Oil for Healthy Cooking

Sandals Barbados Not Doing Enough to Help Food Production

Father and son Butch and Adam Stewart

Father and son Butch and Adam Stewart

First let me declare my absolute and total support for those advocating the use and consumption of more locally produced items especially by our tourism industry. When the head of the Barbados Agricultural Society recently boasted that Sandals Barbados promised to purchase 1,000 pounds of local produce each week, no-one thought to question him as to what this actually means. In all fairness to James Paul, he stated that they were trying to increase this amount, but let’s look at the current figures.

If the hotel is full that is a capacity of 580 guests each night who have every meal and snack included in the cost. This equates to a volume of just 4 ounces per person per day. And that is before any allowance is made for the quoted 600 staff and management taking meals on the property. Continue reading

Sagicor Threatens to Part Ways With the Sugar Industry After Waiting 15 Years on a Plan

Submitted by Anthony Davis

With the future of Barbados’ struggling sugar industry already very uncertain, insurance and financial services giant Sagicor Financial Corporation today announced that it is in the process of reviewing its participation in the island’s agribusiness sectorBarbados Today

Dowridge Miller - CEO Sagicor

Dowridge Miller – CEO Sagicor

Talk about dilatory tactics!

I would like it take that long for politicians to agree to raising their money which they get from the taxpayers tax free monthly – no matter what else happens. There are public servants not being paid, and the ones who are supposed to run this country are making a mockery of it.

Fifteen years is an eternity for the cane farmers to wait for an answer from any government – whether BLP  or DLP, and it is many times worse when both of them did not have the time for or care about how the sugar industry was doing. It seems like a case of the blind leading the blind – no matter who wins the next elections.

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