Barbadian farmers will be among 90 from three Caribbean countries who will participate in a climate smart agriculture project over the next 18 months.
Speaking at the launch of the programme, Executive Director of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) Gordon Bispham said the aim of the project, in which farmers from Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines are also involved, is to support sustainable livelihoods and reinforce that farming is serious business.
“Farming is not a hobby. It is a business where we can apply specific technology and methodologies, not only to be sustainable, but to be profitable. That is going to be very central to our programme.
“If we are going to be successful, it means that we are going to have to build partnerships and networks so that we can share the information that we learned from the project. We must not only upscale agriculture in the three countries identified, but bring more countries of the region into the fold,” he said.
Adding that the youth and women would be a focus of the project, Bispham said that with their inclusion in the sector, countries can depend on agriculture to make a sizable contribution to their gross domestic product (GDP).
Bispham also noted that there were large markets for the Caribbean in the United States and Canada.
In fact, he said, Canada is expected to import US$100 million in fruits and other products grown in the region this year, with Canadians having already established offices in the sub-region to assist in the production and marketing of the products.
While throwing her support behind the agriculture project, head of the political section and Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Silvia Kofler, highlighted the threat presented by global warning.
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impact of climate change. It is an all-encompassing threat, and the nature and scale of this global challenge that we are facing demands a concerted action of us all,” she said.
She gave policymakers in Barbados the assurance that the European Union was willing to assist the region in transforming their societies and sectors into smart and sustainable ones, whether in farming or otherwise.