Government’s plans to establish a Chinese-funded project at the Hope Plantation in St Lucy is being met with stiff opposition from livestock farmers in the north, who complain the project would cause irreparable damage to the industry.
And they have the support of Government backbencher and Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul.
The BAS boss and other members of the executive body today visited the plantation for an assessment of the possible damage if the Freundel Stuart administration proceeds with the plans to set up an agricultural school for students of the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic on 45 acres of land.
Noting that there were plans in place to establish an agro-business plant at the Hope Plantation, Paul warned that Government should not be duplicating projects or competing with the private sector.
Dairy farmer McDonald Stevenson, who has been cultivating the grassland for the past ten years, said he stood to lose the most.
“I am concerned as a livestock farmer who produces milk for the Pine Hill Dairy. I have been cultivating the grass and reaping the grass at the Hope Plantation for the past ten years. It is a source of fodder for my animals and other livestock farmers across the island,” he said.
Parts of the estate are covered with grass, which Stevenson said was food for the farm animals.
“It is a crop which has to be grown like any other crop. Like any other crop fertilizers have to be applied to get the nutritional levels up to a certain standard to feed the livestock. It is a science.
“What I have been doing is using the manure from the cattle to fertilize the grass. These are the inputs I use to grow a crop of grass. When the rain comes you want the grass to grow quickly and have a certain nutritional value so that you can feed your animals,” Stevenson explained.
The dairy farmer told Barbados TODAY that during the dry season and especially at this time when the island was experiencing drought conditions, farmers travelled to the plantation from as far away as Christ Church to access fodder for their animals.