Plantation owner Eddie Edghill and family have been highly praised for contributing land at Dukes in St. Thomas for the construction of a Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship.
The land was officially transferred to the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus this morning during a ceremony at the 40-acre site, which boasted a panoramic view of the south and south west coasts of the island.
Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, described the donation as an emotionally historic moment, identifying the Edghills as today’s pioneers and path-breakers.
“The Edghill family has made a timely investment in our university. This is the first time that the traditional plantation sector of Barbados has made a significant investment embrace of the University of the West Indies. This is a monumental moment and I wish to capture it correctly and meaningfully for the historical record,” declared an openly excited Sir Hilary.
He noted that the land was part of an ancient slave plantation.
“Our ancestors were enslaved on these lands.The Edghill family has sought to confront this history by doing what is right; placing a share of their landed wealth at the service of education and nation building,” added the noted historian.
The Cave Hill Campus head also saw the transfer of land as a moment of reconciling the past with the future, and providing the country with the kind of vision that would serve Barbados well.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, who also addressed the ceremony, hailed the generosity of the Edghills.
“As a result of the generosity of the Edghill family, the UWI has been placed in a position to promote sustainable agriculture which will be research driven and which will impact positively upon the ability of our youth to seriously pursue careers in the science of agriculture and food production,” Dr. Estwick pointed out.
The minister drew attention to the fact that centre was being launched at a time when many Caribbean countries, including Barbados, have been designated as food insecure nations.
“I wish to confirm that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management and its relevant institutions, will collaborate with the UWI in this venture by making its technical expertise available when required,” the cabinet minister stated.
Eddie Edghill himself, suggested that the proper training in agriculture was sorely missing. He was of the opinion, for example, that management and leaders in the sugar industry must have a background in agricultural discipline. The land owner hoped the proposed centre would satisfy a need that would stand Barbados in good stead.
Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY no date for the start of construction of the facility or projected cost had yet been determined. He said the stakeholder would now have to sit down as a body and work out all of the details, including the source of funding, before moving forward. (EJ)