Officials suggest new way forward for agriculture
by David Hinkson
Climate change is the biggest threat small island developing states like Barbados face, and if they are to survive, they must find ways to stave off its adverse effects, especially when it comes to food production.
With that in mind, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme is encouraging the development of “climate smart” agriculture.
National Coordinator of the Small Grants Programme in Barbados David Bynoe told Barbados TODAY “Agriculture is a modality for people to get out of poverty but it has to be done in a scientific and business like manner.
“Climate smart agriculture means any production system you implement must be resistant to climate change issues like drought, flooding and natural disasters like hurricanes.”
He said he recently returned from Dominica where similar projects had already been established, “and we found that they withstood the devastation of Hurricane Maria six months ago.
“These projects concentrated on root crops like sweet potatoes and dasheen and they are flourishing, but crops that grow above ground like bananas have not yet come back on stream.”
Bynoe also spoke of some Barbadian farmers who were practising the same concept here.
“We have a local company called Solagrow, which is producing herbs and vegetables in solar-powered greenhouses, and they are using locally developed apps to control fertiliser, irrigation and other elements of crop production. The system they are using will also enable us to grow crops like Romaine lettuce and strawberries that we presently import.”
The company is also in the process of patenting its apps, which it can then market to other countries in the world facing similar environmental challenges.
Bynoe was speaking on the sidelines of a workshop at UN House for beneficiaries of the Small Grants Programme, aimed at familiarizing them with the process of securing grants and how to keep track of their projects.
He was proud to state that they stayed close to everyone who had come through the programme since its inception.
“When we bring people on board we see them as part of the SGP family, and because of that, former grantees are always willing to come back and share their experiences, network and help the new grantees implement their projects,” he added. (DH)