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?

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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..

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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 – https://www.google.com/maps?cid=9583706197124082053&hl=en&gl=gb&shorturl=1 . 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: brathwaitegc@gmail.com )

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
Avocado

Avocado

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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Agriculturalist Peter Webster Contradicts Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

portvale sugar factory

portvale sugar factory

Isn’t it disappointing and a poor reflection on the leadership in Barbados we have to endure the perennial blame game concerning the state and future of the sugar industry in Barbados? At last month’s Barbados Chamber of Commerce  and Industry (BCCI) Prime Minister Stuart  placed the blame squarely on the back of the private sector for the decline. Even if we accept Stuart’s position we have to ask him, who will lead? It is approaching mid-February and there has been no mobilization of the crop season to reap what is estimated to be 9,000 tonnes of sugar, the lowest in our history.

The average Barbadian is divided about whether sugar is uneconomic. Sadly the majority of positions taken are from uninformed position. Uninformed positions extend to social commentators (talk show hosts) who can be heard daily with positions like, let us follow the St. Kitts model. When the hell has Barbados been known for following lesser developed countries? Is this the sum of billions of investment in education?

Back to sugar!

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Producing Local Food to Feed Tourists–Can We Do It?

Hardly a week seems to go by without one or two prominent figures calling for, or in some cases demanding, more use of local produce by our tourism industry and especially restaurants. First, I absolutely and totally support this objective but I wonder if the energy expended in trying to make this happen is entirely well placed or in fact truly balanced.

Some time ago the dairy farmers were complaining about being forced to accept lower prices and reduced quotas, the virtual monopoly milk processing entity unilaterally stopped making yogurts locally, pretty much a basic serving menu article in most hotels and alternative accommodation offerings. No-one can convince me that it is cheaper to bring in a foreign made refrigerated alternative across 6,000 or more miles by road and ship and for the wholesale distributors to always disperse them within the stated sell by date. There has to be waste and spoilage.

I also understand the economics of mass branded cheeses like Cheddar, but surely there are specialty items that can be made locally like double cream, feta and cottage cheese which are largely imported with a huge drain of foreign currency.

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Support Local Agriculture, Eat Food Produced Locally

Barbados needs to protect local food production

Barbados needs to protect local food production

BU commenter Colonel Buggy responded to the question on the blog Tourism Sector a Cadre of Beggars – what is the answer for food security and the reduction of the food import bill in Barbados …?

First of all we have to instil in our people the need to eat what we grow, and not to hanker for the fast foods, whose raw materials are mostly imported. Or, as the Dipper would have said, we have to take back the hearts and minds of our people from the Confederate Colonel of the South.

Free up some of the hundreds of acres of former productive lands, now in bush, to persons interested in farming.

Allow farmers, who so wish to live on the land, even if they are restricted to chattel homes only, as this is one measure that will minimise the incidents of praedial larceny. And all farmers living on and working their lands should be exempt the impost of this increase in land tax,which came in the guise of a solid waste tax.

Many countries give meaningful concessions to farmers, i.e. duty free equipment. In Barbados, concessions are so petty and bureaucratic that many farmers prefer not to bother with them. During the last war, and subsequently in National Service, in the UK, many farmers and farm workers were exempt military service, as farming was seen as an essential National Service of its own.And this is still true today.

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Support the Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute of Barbados

Click to watch video (3m) - KickStarting a Permaculture school to teach people how to grow food, repair landscapes & build community.

Click to watch video (3m) – KickStarting a Permaculture school to teach people how to grow food, repair landscapes & build community.

See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the project

If Farming Were Easy…

Submitted by Damian Hinkson
Without the microbiology farmers will have to use more and more, chemical energy to get the same amount of produce.

Without the microbiology farmers will have to use more and more, chemical energy to get the same amount of produce.

If farming were easy we would all be doing it! after all Food is our most basic need. So it stands to reason that farming should be profitable. However that’s not the case. I will point out why using 3 points below and then explain one solution to make farming profitable in Barbados.

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Let Us Discuss Food Imports Minister YESTWICK!

Dr. Chelston Brathwaite with Minister Estwick

Dr. Chelston Brathwaite with Minister Estwick

“It has been reported that Barbados current food import bill is in the region of $800 million dollars annually.  The Minister of Agriculture has also stated that 65 percent of our food is produced locally. This means we import 35 percent of our food.  Our total food bill is therefore almost $2.3 billion dollars annually. This translates to over $20 per day for every man, woman and child.  Note that this is the cost at the point of production (or importation) and not point of sale. The cost at point of sale (supermarket, shop, restaurant etc.) would be higher to account for storage and distribution, profit, spoilage etc.  To get an idea of what this means lets look at a family of 4 shopping for all their food in a supermarket. This amounts to over $600 per week or $2400 per month.

I find this hard to believe.  Either the $800 million dollars per year is incorrect or the 65 percent is incorrect.  I tend to believe the 65 percent is incorrect and the Minister has the percentages reversed.  In other words, we import 65 percent of our food.  If this is correct we have a very long way to go towards food security.”

The above was submitted by Bentley where he raises the issue of food security which should concern all Barbadians. Although many Barbadians are indoctrinated and intoxicated by the benefits of globalization, a man made construct, BU subscribes to the position that a country is responsible for safeguarding its basic needs.

Relevant Link: CARDI Agriculture News

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Natural Habitats on the Decline

Submitted by Charles Knighton
Do we as humans understand our relationship with the environment?

Do we as humans understand our relationship with the environment?

Almost a quarter of Europe’s bumblebees are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitats, climate change, the intensification of agriculture and changes in agricultural land.” Study: A quarter of Europe’s bumblebees face extinction, 3 April Barbados Advocate

Insects are under siege not just in Europe but worldwide, including Barbados.

On the first of November last year, when Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day from points north. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned. This year, for the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t arrive that day. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers even when compared to the record-low numbers of 2012. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

From 1992 through 1994, my wife and I spent our days exploring Barbados in a quest to determine the butterflies indigenous to Barbados, as well as their critically important larval host plants. Having determined such, we arranged our  plantings to facilitate a thriving butterfly sanctuary, which incidentally attracted other insect pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees. Alas, while the plants still beckon, these ecologically critical insects have become virtually nonexistent.

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The First Steps to Food Security

The following extract about Aquaponics submitted by Ready done
 Innovation Adoption Lifecycle - Wikipedia

Innovation Adoption Lifecycle – Wikipedia

Aquaponic farming dates back to the Aztecs but due to the currently available combination of cheap plastics and Magnetic drive pumps it was recently re-discovered and improved upon as a viable organic farming method. The system is designed to hold fresh water fish in tanks, in conjunction with plants in large plant pots. Fast draining Coconut fibre is used as an alternative to soil for when the fish’s water is pumped through the plant pots. The coconut fibre act like a battery holding the manure as the plant’s roots uses it yet it constantly re-charges from the fresh fish waste in the water stream as it passes through. The raw fish waste is converted by natural bacterial process that results in completely fertilized plants and clean water for fish.

Our mission is to bring aquaponics to the masses, to have AP systems as common place as the refrigerator, which, though it seems far fetch at this time is possible because AP produces food while a fridge only stores it. Ongoing efforts to get households growing food using aquaponics has allowed us to position ourselves as market leaders in the small but rapidly growing Aquaponics community on the island. We have acquired an intimate knowledge of what the industry requires and are seeing a dramatic increase of interest in the system by vastly diverse groups of people.

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Agriculture and Feeding Our People

Submitted by Bentley Norville
 “…our food import bill around 800 to 900 million dollars a year …”

“…our food import bill around 800 to 900 million dollars a year …”

With all the recent and current talk on agriculture and our gargantuan food import bill a serious rethink on how we acquire our food is urgently required. With our food import bill around 800 to 900 million dollars a year we cannot afford not to.

When we look at agriculture as it’s now practiced we recognise that sugar cane cultivation accounts for most of our agriculture land.  A quick look at sugar production reveals that the yield as measured in weight per square foot per year is only 0.15lb/sq.ft./yr.  By contrast food production, using methods currently practiced elsewhere – see video –  can yield from 1.0 up to 5.0 (and beyond) lb/sq.ft./yr.

It has been argued that we need to continue sugar production for a number of reasons.  Following are the arguments against these so-called reasons:

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To David Estwick and Cabinet, it must be about Barbados

Cabinet of Barbados

Cabinet of Barbados

In the last six years Barbados has been consumed by an unprecedented type of polarising politics. It is a politics which has reordered national priorities. No longer are decisions made on the basis of what is important on the national front but more to do with what is politically expedient. Political pundits had warned that the 2-seat majority government which resulted from the last general election would have landed us here. A classic illustration is the government’s commitment to send home 3,000 public sector workers but because of political imperatives the national exigency has had to be sacrificed, the result; a bloated Cabinet.

Perhaps the best example of politics trumping commonsense and national interest is the 9-day topical issue –  the Estwick Affair. One member of parliament holds the trump card (theoretically) which potentially affects the balance of government in Barbados. Whereas Arthur would have fired Estwick from Cabinet a long time ago – he had bench strength in the House – Prime Minister Stuart is forced to tolerate a minister who has made it known publicly he disagrees with Cabinet; a severe break from convention.  BU referred to Estwick’s trump card as theoretical because he has developed the reputation as a bluffer.

If the country was focussed on the national priority we should be grilling Estwick about what the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has achieved under his stewardship since 2010. Insiders are aware it took several days of suasion to get him to accept the agriculture ministry.

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Adams Aqualife Wins Bank On Me

Submitted by Ready done

We believe in Aquaponics, it is an idea that solves so many problems we are currently facing towards becoming a circular economy. Kristen Adams of Adams Aqualife recently won the Bank On Me competition, highlighting the massive available liquidity in the fish farming market. No doubt interest in fish farming is on the increase.

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Adoption of Aquaponics Systems the Food Solution for Barbados

Submitted by Ready Done
'6,889 early adopters of Aquaponics systems needed'

‘6,889 early adopters of Aquaponics systems needed’

I got home yesterday and heard the unmistakable voice of my first crush Jacqueline Yvonne ‘Jackée’ Harry, there she was standing on that same step in a tight blue dress as curvy as l remember her. My daughter was watching the show 227, she likes the 80s era, as she puts it “ancient times”. This is the meaning of the information age. The generation X crew have a difficult time understanding how differently we accessed information. When I was her age 227 was after my bed time hour,  My only opportunity to watch Jackée was on my visit to the bathroom, and I would walk as slowly as possible the ten foot distance to ogle Jackée.

I also ran home from school to watch Sesame Street. I had to fight sleep to watch  X Files and Allo Allo. This generation knows nothing about waiting for information, the feeling of not having a conversation about last night’s TV show because you missed it is foreign to them . They get the news as it happens in detail, we only heard about bad car accident and saw a pic from a distance in the newspaper the next day. Our children get video of the accidents sometimes 5 minutes after it happens.

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Guerrilla Gardening Provides Healthy Food Alternative

Submitted by Green Monkey

One approach to providing healthy food alternatives to his neighbours, many or most of whom are accustomed to eating large amounts of disease inducing fast foods as a regular part of their daily food intake, comes from a guerrilla gardener and activist in South Central LA by the name of Ron Finley.

“South Central LA, home of the drive-thru, and the drive-by,” Finley says. “Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killin’ more people than the drive-bys. People are dying from curable diseases in South Central LA.” – Ron Finley

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How Do You Eat Your Apples?

Submitted by Ready done
The popular herbicide Roundup is a watered down version of agent orange

Popular herbicide Roundup is a watered down version of agent orange

Some people eat apples as portrayed in the mass media from the side to the core, some eat from the bottom or top end because that way you eat the whole apple leaving only the seeds and stem, some people scrape the wax off of the apple before eating it. Most people don’t even know that some apples are dipped in wax to preserve it for years, some people read the bar code to see if it is an organic apple, some people peel the apple because they know the skin is the part that gets the most chemical spray, I personally don’t eat the red apple because it is imported, I prefer a mammy apple, golden apple or sugar apple. However way too much people have no idea what they are putting into their body. We tend to think that because it is sold in a supermarket it is good for us, we are inclined to forget that the supermarket is a business (to make a profit) it has nothing to do with our health.

There is an interesting link between chemicals used in war and chemicals used in food production which is not well known – we war with each other and we war with Mother nature. Chemicals used in agriculture are actually watered down versions of the chemicals used in war. Fertilizer use exploded onto the scene after the first world war because the war machinery that was used to create chemicals for bombs had to find an alternative use, it was easy to convert to be used in agriculture. The ammonium used in explosives is actually the same ammonium used in fertilizer, you should recall the Oklahoma City bombing.

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Baird’s Village Aquaponic System: Finding a Balance

Submitted by Ready Done
Modern Agriculture

Modern Agriculture

Finding a balance in life is one of the best feelings one can have, bills paid, meat in the fridge, veggies in the Aquaponic system. At this point in life, the air smells better and the grass is greener, no stress, life as mother nature intended it.

To maintain that state of balance is the hard part, the postman never forgets where you live and there are always next month’s bills. For an average person the cycle of work/pay is life as we come to know and love. We all understand how cashing in big now has repercussions for a long time after. Sometimes we grossly underestimate the length of the repercussions. We work as a society to spread out our responsibility and workload. The promise is that the average person can maintain a decent living with an honest day’s work; with that in mind the benefits of society far out way the required work, the mass production of high quality goods, like, toilet paper, Range rovers, North face bags and Galaxy s3’s make life sweet, we would not want to live without them. Our love affair with technology began when the first farmer left the first garden with the first tool.

A staff witch incidentally was the first piece of technology, given to us, ever since we have been improving upon technology to do what we always did, what we are programmed to do, garden, the current path of industrialized agriculture, genetically modified organisms and chemical fertilizers has worked well for us allowing one farmer to grow food for hundreds even thousands allowing us to have our full time jobs, and continue the cycle of society.

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Can Barbados Develop Cassava as a Successful Agro Industry?

Prepared by the Facebook Group: Surviving Our Harsh Economic Environment (SOHEE)
 It is a perennial crop hence it can be harvested as required

It is a perennial crop hence it can be harvested as required

Introduction:

Currently a significant number of persons are moving away from gluten (e.g. wheat) flours. As a consequence they are looking for alternative flours. Some of the main alternatives are cassava, arrowroot, corn, rice, breadfruit, etc. In our neck of the woods, we possess the expertise and soil for the growth of cassava, arrowroot and breadfruit flours. Cassava is most likely going to require the least amount of time and effort in order to become an economically viable crop.

Below Is A Synopsis To Getting A Cassava Industry Up And Running Here In Barbados.

Positive Attributes of Cassava:
1. Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in tropical climates
2. It is a perennial crop hence it can be harvested as required
3. Cassava gives one of the highest yields of carbohydrates/ starch per cultivated area
4. Cassava is one of the most drought-tolerant crops
5. It grows well in most soils
6. Is not liked by the monkeys (Good news for Barbados)
7. Excellent source of gluten-free carbohydrates
8. With ideal growing conditions can yield on average 12.5 tonnes per hectare (NB: In India with a the yield of 34.8 tonnes per hectare – 2010)
9. Per unit weight, it commands a relatively good price on the International markets
10. Extremely digestible

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Sugar Cane Production: A Race Against the Clock

UK Guardian

Photo: UK Guardian

At 32min.35sec of the Dr. David Estwick presentation of the Democratic Labour party (DLP) 2013 Manifesto Launch he laid out government’s strategic plan for restructuring  the sugar cane industry for generating valueaddeds by accepting financing from the Japanese.  That is diversification: using sugar cane to generate power (25,000 megawatts) by reducing the fuel bill by 150 million dollars among other recommendations. The cane industry restructuring project (CIRP) is estimated to cost 230 million dollars.

This project which Dr. Estwick unfolded during the political campaign in February 2013 has taken on critical importance given the planned expiry of European Union sugar quotas in 2015.  The resultant action is that it “would lead to a reduction in the price in the European market.  This in turn would make the EU market less attractive to the ACP and other higher cost exporters.” The bottomline is that countries in the Caribbean (including Barbados) would lose its preferential status in the EU market.

If the APD debate is any thing to go by it is unlikely Barbados and other Caribbean islands will be able to influence the 2015 deadline. Our only hope is if the quotas are removed by the EU it will create a problem for sugar cane refiners in the EU as well.  Barbados will be banking on the European Commission extending to deadline to 2017-20 given this consideration.

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Try Quinoa!

Submitted by Readydone
Quinoa

Quinoa

Expecting Barbados food sources to transform from export to domestic is a very mighty task. This is compounded by the fact that we get up to five times our population in tourists annually. The result: the demand for food fluctuates too quickly for farmers to accurately judge what the market will be like when the crops are ready to harvest up to four months away. Our previous agriculture model of exporting sugar had numerous advantages for our small island. The fact the sugar takes a long time to expire and has excellent shipping and handling properties means that the farmer was almost guaranteed that his crop would be sold.

If agriculture is to survive given our small population, and benefit a greater number of people, not just the few that can afford the protection of the large greenhouses required if you want to grow vegetables for profit. We either have to find a more suitable export crop or promote the kitchen garden again. Baird Village Aquaponics has done some interesting research into finding an export crop. We researched rice, tobacco, grapes and soybean – all good – but Quinoa as a food crop for Barbados is showing the most real life potential, international research suggests the plant does not do well at low elevations, but Barbados has a very interesting environment that I personally believe can grow any crop.

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Your Garden Without Chemical Fertilizers

Submitted by Readydone

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most people cannot believe how easy it is to grow plants without Miracle Grow or any other type of chemical fertilizer. Once you get your soil alive the micro-herd in the soil keeps plants growing very healthy. The actually types and numbers of bacteria are of little concern to the home grower. All we need to know is how to harvest them and encourage them to work for us.

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Nurturing Your Backyard Garden

Submitted by Readydone
Mimosa Weed

Mimosa Weed

At Baird’s village farms we use the most sustainable resources available. A main staple in our plant maintenance program is extracted from Mimosa seed enzymes and to a lesser extent coconut extracts. These are the equivalent of vitamins for your plants when applied at each stage of life and can’t be overdosed; we have noticed it drastically improves the transplant process. These organic, locally sourced extracts help provide the environment that encourages healthy plants, healthy plants grow faster produces more and resist negative outside influences.

Mimosa is an invasive weed traditionally used as feed to “slim down” livestock that have become fat from feed. The plants are easy to identify and the dry brown pods release seed with a quick, vigorous shake. The fact is that this is a free and abundant source. Anyone can harvest enough in one day to last a year and you don’t need specialized equipment or prior knowledge to extract.  It produces plants way more productive than any synthetic fertilizer can. These are good reasons we think everyone should add this to their garden maintenance program.

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We Need to Integrate Waste Disposal and Agriculture

Submitted by Readydone
Composting

Composting

Gale and her family paid a visit to my farm at Bairds village recently. She was the usual type of visitor. She proceeded to share that she has done some research and is very interested in agriculture for food production at home. It is the usual type of thing I hear. Many people  are curious about aquaponics and are surprised to find a working system in Barbados and always take the opportunity and visit. I always welcome, this particular visitor. Gale asked all the usual questions but when she asked – why is there not a culture of domestic food production in Barbados because we have very conducive weather , the answer hit me.

We have free garbage collection; it’s that simple, free disposal of all our organic waste means we throw away that valuable resource that should be used to make compost we are sending it straight to the landfills. Compost is the absolute key to every productive kitchen garden, it has the ability to sustain a large population of micro life forms in the soil, without it you get very poor results. When you sweep your house you sweep out dirt, it has all the constituents of soil yet you can sense it has no life and could not even grow elephant grass, then look at real soil, same materials but the micro heard is alive and active, so it sticks together, it holds water, and most importantly grows food. These microscopic critters take care of our plants root zone and provide the conditions that promote active plant growth.

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Sir Kyffin Simpson Shows Leadership Investing in Agriculture (in Guyana)

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
Sir Kyffin Simpson

Sir Kyffin Simpson

The traditional corporate sector, in the Caribbean and in Barbados in particular, is not known as risk takers. Quite frankly, we believe that the development of the region has been systematically hampered by this traditional corporate class which has deep roots in the retail trade and are often afraid to venture out of their comfort zones.

This fear has led to the virtual paralysis of agriculture and has left the door wide open for foreign investors to reap benefits in industries such as manufacturing and tourism. Even in the area of sports and other leisure activities, this corporate group has often ignored investment opportunities. They preferred to invest in: private yacht clubs, polo and other activities, which have no real appeal to the masses. However, it would be dishonest to argue that their investments in horse racing have not brought employment opportunities for the working class.

We have noted that the failure of the corporate elite to heavily invest in West Indies cricket, is a glaring example of leaving the field open to the Kerry Packers and Allen Stanfords ,sometimes with negative results, as was the case of Stanford. West Indies cricket was fractured to some degree by Kerry Packer but we survived that episode, quite well, because the players were handsomely rewarded. Stanford turned out to be a dishonest investor.

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The Plight of the Local Dairy

Image Credit - Rosemary Parkinson

Image Credit – Rosemary Parkinson

The following article was extracted from Rosemary Parkinson’s Facebook Page. She has become known on Facebook and BU as a strident advocate for one cause or the other as it affects Bajans. A read of Rosemary’s Bio can be an intimidating experience; where does she find the time and energy!  At the core of what she does is publishing books about the foods of our region BUT her interest gleaned from her BIO is far-flung.

Love it. First OUR LOCAL DAIRY tries to fool the people with their so-called “fresh” milk that was not fresh but some new-fangled bad-tasting excuse for milk that could last on a shelf for 90 days.

When the people screamed, OUR LOCAL DAIRY thought they could fool even more people by putting same into the coolers of supermarkets but the taste remained the same and no matter what OUR LOCAL DAIRY did for marketing, nothing worked.

CEO of OUR LOCAL DAIRY says “consumption not like it used to be”…well Sir WHOSE FAULT IS THAT, PRAY TELL? You admitted that people used to drink more milk in the past…so you gave yourself the answer one time but just in case you still doan get it. WHEN THAT HORRIBLE MILK DID NOT SELL, WHY DID YOU NOT TAKE YOUR LOSSES, SCRAP DE PROCEDURE AND REVERT TO THE REAL MILK THAT HAD BEEN SELLING WELL FOR YEARS EH? Oh! No! No!…you believed that we the people would soon get over our disgust and begin the consumption of what you felt we had to consume whether we liked it or not. Perhaps your marketing man should have heeded my words at BMEX when you first launched there and he insisted this milk was “fresh from the cow”…for I said clearly…THE PEOPLE WILL NOT LIKE THIS…YOU WILL LOSE!

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Playing Roulette With Our Lives

The following extracted from Youtube:

Are you and your family on the wrong side of a bet?

When the US government ignored repeated warnings by its own scientists and allowed untested genetically modified (GM) crops into our environment and food supply, it was a gamble of unprecedented proportions. The health of all living things and all future generations were put at risk by an infant technology.

After two decades, physicians and scientists have uncovered a grave trend. The same serious health problems found in lab animals, livestock, and pets that have been fed GM foods are now on the rise in the US population. And when people and animals stop eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their health improves.

This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.

More information can be found at:

http://geneticroulettemovie.com

http://responsibletechnology.org

Farmer Bim Agro Confidence….Armtag !

Submitted by Old Onion Bags

Sweet potato fries

After watching last night’s news (17 October) on CBC TV, most of the viewers including a latent society of farmers, financial thinkers, and every other recently concerned citizen, were probably left into a state of disbelief, with the bold inventive of Armtag. Finally, good news and common sense seemingly has prevailed and blessed these now bankrupt thinking shores. One well known Barbadian forerunner family, the Armstrongs, has again struck ‘compos mentis’ and a possible gold mine, revealing their eagerness in reinvesting in our “hills and dales beyond recall.” You heard it right, unlike some near Graeme swamp, they have found faith and shown the potential and good foresight, in revamping agriculture…after all…“it’s all we got.”

Have you visited KFC lately? On the menu nowadays you can have golden spigots of a once true Bajan staple, sweet potatoes, instead of lame french fries, with your broasted bajan raised six week tender broiler bird. The novelty, a well thought of spin off from Armtag farms. Delicious too one must admit and catching on like wildfire. Sweet potatoes fries definite not a lame dick chip. Armtag Farms now maverick, last night proudly displayed their investment in machinery, washers and graders. They also informed of 150 acres planted in sweet potatoes, 100 acres in cassava and plans to pursue eddoes cultivation, in order to meet demands. Worthy plans and endeavors by all means. Not only are cassava and sweet potatoes healthy fibers to consume, but by this newly founded thrust, Barbadian business may once more see profitability in arraigning with agriculture.

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Barbadians Do Not Care About OUR Land

Senator Dr. Frances Chandler

The attempt to plant houses at Lower Greys provoked several like-minded people to meet at the location to express disappointment with our land use policy.  BU reported on the meeting in the blog Future Trust Meeting At Boarded Hall. BU is pleased to share the speaking notes of Senator Dr. Frances Chandler who was a featured speaker at the meeting.

Let me start by saying that I am well aware that affordable housing is a priority for Barbados and have to commend the present administration for the noticeable increase in housing which has come about in the last four and a half years.

However, I will never agree with taking good agricultural land out of production to be put into housing. Once it goes into housing it is lost forever. And there is no need to do this. I drive around the country daily and I know there is enough non-arable land which could be used .

Also, if we are going to take land out, start with the dry coastal areas which present challenges to farmers-not the fertile lands of St George, St Thomas and so on. The land next to us which is about to be used for housing belongs to Hannays Plantation, one of the best managed and most successful plantations in the island.

Read full text of Senator Dr. Frances Chandler’s speech

Future Trust Meeting At Boarded Hall

On the left is the open area where the meeting will be held at Boarded Hall and on the right shows how topsoil is allowed to runoff and the fertility of agriculture land suffocated to rab land

A reminder the Future Centre Trust National meeting on Food Security, Permaculture, Land Use policy and Agriculture will be held this Sunday at 4 PM. Featured speakers slated are Dr Chelston Brathwaite, Keith Laurie, Dr Frances Chandler and Keeley Holder.

The meeting will be held on the open area at Boarded Hall. All Barbadians and friends of Barbados are invited to come and have a say.

Related Links:

The Assault On Arable Land Continues Under Both Political Parties

Senatorr Dr. Frances Chandler

Senator Dr. Frances Chandler, a respected voice on land use in Barbados

The following message from the Future Trust is being disseminated by BU because there is undoubtedly a big case of relevance. Minister David Estwick has been making a lot of noise recently to gain attention for his ministry. It appears he has been successful in the endeavour.

National Meeting on Agriculture
Date: Sunday June 24
Time: 4pm
Duration: 3 hours
Location: Boarded Hall

Speakers: Dr Francis Chandler, Dr Chelston Brathwaite, Keith Laurie, Mia Mottley

Catalyst: Large area of VERY arable land earmarked at Lower Greys east of the Shop on the right hand side to be put into housing. Land was in food production up to two years ago. Is this the best we can do with our arable land when so much rab land is around?

A few will make lots a money and many will own a home but maybe unable to buy the imported food due to high inflation. We are saying the most arable fertile lands in the St George Valley and St Thomas must be protected from development. When will this encroachment stop? With the Urban Sprawl well entrenched all lands in this 166sq mile dot is marginal.

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Earth To Barbados, Too Much Concrete,You Need To Plant Food Too

Earth Day today

As this blog is being given life the clock ticks away on Earth Day. The fact that its significance is not mentioned in any serious way in the local media, or any strident mention made of it by those responsible in government and other relevant NGO agencies, sums up how confused we are about what our priorities must be in 2012. Ironically there is currently a lot of play about who should buy our precious land resource to build a hotel at Heywoods or guest houses at Whitehaven. It is to be regretted that Barbadians are not able to work at achieving multiple objectives at the same time given the current reality.

The perennial issue of the need for Barbadians to prioritize building out a plan to ensure food security and the focus Earth Day brings to the matter bears a mention. What will it take to create the awaking among the current generation of Barbadian that we must plan to feed ourselves, our children and generations to come? Food security is no joke and while we cannot have 100% food security there are initiatives which individuals and government alike can mobilize to mitigate the risk of doing nothing.

Are we happy that we can continue to earn enough foreign exchange to be able to stock our supermarket shelves with five brands of shoe polish, ten brands of cereal etc.? Whither the plan to engage in functional cooperation with Dominica and how can we leverage the wasteland of an emerging Guyana which yearns for investment?  What the hell are we doing?

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Agriculture…It’s All We Really Have

Submitted by Old Onions Bag

David Estwick, Minister of Agriculture

Yes Barbados, it’s all we really have and cancould be the way forward. That is if we act NOW.  The Food index as predicted, rose last week. We are continually being told of a corn shortage in the future.  Corn is a feed all, both people and animals. Why don’t we see stockpiling of the seed and a renewed revolutionize  planting thrust in progress around the country side ? Why Why ?

We have sweet potatoes and yams. I would hope some stockpiling is going on now in times of plenty. Is this not what taking advantage of fore-knowledge is all about ? “To be fore-warned is to be fore armed.”
By now with all these warnings (for about eight months now) we are not seeing the Ministry of Agriculture engaged in the necessary action…we should be seeing  purchasing of tractors and ploughing equipment (stockpiling of spares) now they are still relatively cheap. If we are wrong.. Mr. Estwick should be advising us what is being done. The silence from him and others is deafening.

Why are we waiting for the GREAT SHORTAGE to start before we act? Why?  Is it that we don’t believe there will be a shortage? Predictive indicators are showing  and correctly …a time of shortage is coming and not very far away. Wake up Barbados…ACT NOW ! We should be planting. Agriculture is all we have and can be our saviour.

Carmeta Fraser Trumpeted ‘Food First’!

Image extracted from Facebook, BU apologizes if anyone finds it offensive

Successive Barbados governments in the last twenty have shown little appetite to develop a vibrant agriculture sector. There is now a resignation by all but a few that the way services go so too the economic fortune of Barbados. The Barbados Labour Party’s  (BLP) chief spokesman on economic matters Clyde Mascoll is on record dismissing any significant investment by his government in the sector, reason being the high cost of inputs.  The commonsense view that investing in a homegrown agriculture sector has more to do with addressing food security seems to be lost on policymakers. Of course there is the other reason which has to do with protecting our right to grow food which is not genetically modified and at the same time align with the positive message that healthy lifestyle is a worthwhile endeavor.

This government has uttered the correct messages regarding the need to etch  an agriculture policy. However after four years there is not much one can honestly agree has been accomplished. There is the news making the rounds that the government currently has  several acres of land under fruit cultivation. The project is expected to supply local demand. Up to the time of posting this blog BU was unable to identify the location. The reality is that members of government reflect the values of the society which produced them.

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Man Turn On De Stove!

Posted by Rosemary Parkinson on BU blog – Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? – reposted because of its relevance

Have just returned from The Bahamas where I delivered a presentation on the future of culinary tourism…so I was very pleased to see all the above comments re food except for alien’s own. Sir or Madam – this is a blog about food not about sexual food but real food, the kind one puts into one’s stomach through the mouth – how black and white sex gets into here is beyond me…but I guess some minds just are able to turn everything into a barrage against whites because of historical facts whether they were good, bad or ugly (and they were all but it is past and these sexual unions have produced a wonderful colourful people of all hues, some who eat healthy food and others that open their mouths and immediately show what their stomachs are filled with so that the brain is never in gear with today’s life but seems to have been left to fry in the dirty oil of history. Whilst we should not forget, we should be happy we are now gorgeous Caribbean people with great soul food, and turn our thoughts positively about that! To each his own sadness I guess.)

Yes! Fast Food is not cheap. Yes! Fast food is unhealthy. This cry has been going out now for a very long time. But the fast food business is booming and will continue to do so because we are a lazy lot. And yes! what we do not realize is that Fast Food is also ‘addictive’. And yes! Fast Food can cause us to spend more with the doctor (they are happy…has anyone seen a poor doctor ’bout hey?).

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