The University of the West Indies hopes to begin construction of a $6 million Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship on nearly 30 acres of land at Dukes Plantation, St. Thomas this year.
This was disclosed to Barbados TODAY this afternoon by Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite, minutes after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Food Security between the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus and McGill University in Canada, at the UWI.
Under the MOU, McGill University will advise the UWI on the farm layout and infrastructure development of the centre and provide assistance in land development and management and irrigation and drainage at the St. Thomas site.
It will also provide expertise in aspects of tropical agriculture and post harvest technology in agricultural engineering. The Canadian university will help, too, in the delivery of training in short courses in agriculture for student farmers and extension officers.
The MOU also facilitates collaborative efforts between the two institutions to assist Cave Hill campus in seeking opportunities for joint research for development projects in agriculture and food security.
It is also hoped the agreement would provide for exchanges of faculty, staff and students, joint research activities, publication emanating from these research activities, joint participation in seminars, short-term academic programmes and exchange of graduate students.
The MOU was signed by Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at McGill University, Professor Chandra Madramootoo and Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, at Cave Hill, Professor Justin Robinson.
Brathwaite told this newspaper that the main delay in getting the centre off the ground was availability of funding. However, he said various sources of financing were being explored and he hoped construction could start this year. (EJ)