Local agriculturists have been told they could not count on the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to provide all the water they will require to irrigate their farms in 2016 because of the challenges the state company will face in the coming year.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul has predicted that the low levels of rainfall experienced this year will impact agricultural production next year and that farmers will be hard-pressed to have sufficient water for irrigation.
However, he said the BWA was not the answer, suggesting instead that farmers collect and store rainwater for future use.
“We have to look at ways and means of trying to increase the amount of water harvesting that we have been doing. In that regard we are having some unseasonable rain at nights and maybe farmers need to look to see . . . what kind of water saving we can put in place.
“I think if we can do that we may be able to at least make sure that we have a stock of water in case the wells fail and for emergency purposes. That is an issue that going into 2016 farmers will have to face. They can prepare themselves for it because I do not think they can rely totally on the efforts of the Barbados Water Authority in that regard. The BWA will be challenged in 2016,” Paul told journalists yesterday at a press briefing at the BAS headquarters on Beckles Road, St Michael.
The St Michael West Central Member of Parliament indicated that several businesses, including the breweries, generated large quantities of waste water, which farmers should consider putting to use as long as it meets the required standard.
And he stressed the importance of conservation, recommending greater use of the drip irrigation method instead of the more wildly used sprinkler irrigation.
“We have been speaking a lot about drip irrigation for certain crops. Next year and beyond I think we will see a greater reliance on drip irrigation. [We use] sprinkler systems . . . while on the other hand drip irrigation is more efficient in the use of water. We must engage in practices that conserve water in a much more efficient manner,” the BAS head said.
Paul also announced that next year’s Agrofest will be held from February 26 to February 28 at Queen’s Park, the City.