With water shortages crippling two of Barbados’ major agricultural areas, River Plantation in St Philip and Spring Hall in St Lucy, Government is close to finding a water solution to the recurring problem, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir has advised.
According to Weir, his ministry has actively been on the hunt for the technology as well as funding and quite recently these endeavours appear to be yielding positive results.
“My Permanent Secretary and I took the opportunity when we were in Rome attending the FAO [Food and Agricultural Organization] to meet with the Deputy Director General of the FAO and the Director General elect as IFAD [International Fund for Agricultural Development]. During this meeting, we discussed technical support for solutions at River Plantation. We sought to acquire funding to put in the necessary technology for those farmers, so that they would hopefully never ever have to complain about water shortages. I am hoping to put this in place in the very short term,” said Weir.
The Minister did not go into details about Government’s plans to ensure steady water supply during prolonged droughts.
Two months ago, vegetable producers in the east joined farmers in the north complaining that water shortages were destroying their businesses.
Farmers at the River Plantation Land Lease Project in St Philip told Barbados TODAY that after harvesting the current crop they will be forced to abandon the plots until the rains return.
Farmers explained that while they have been experiencing water shortages on the project for years, the water levels at the pond which feeds the Barbados Agricultural Development & Marketing Corporation’s (BADMC) pumping station, are critically low and drying up.
However, Weir lashed out at the previous administration for not addressing the problem sooner and with the same degree of urgency. He argued that with the impending impacts of climate change discussed at length for decades, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration which led the country in the ten years prior to May 2018, has no excuse for not getting ahead of the problem.
“This is something that should have been done long ago and if you go to the farmers in Spring Hall St Lucy, the same thing should have been done. Droughts are upon us; this is what climate change has done. The entire region is facing the same problem and for us to have a conversation publicly as though any man can stop a drought, is a silly conversation,” he said.
The Minister added, “For farmers to complain at this 11th hour about having droughts and saying that ‘nobody cares,’ is a message we can’t carry in this country. Our reality is that it has always been there. We are going to do our best to ensure that we fix it.”