by Marlon Madden
One of Barbados’ newest entrepreneurs is on a mission to put a dent in the island’s massive food import bill and help improve food security. Through the use of new and innovative technologies, Candyse Griffith is seeking to help Barbadians eat more locally grown fruits and vegetables.
In May of this year, the 35-year-old St Michael resident founded the company GreenGrub Barbados, a technological savvy indoor and outdoor gardening supply drop shipping store. GreenGrub Barbados specialises in do it yourself hydroponics systems and technologically enhanced hydroponic greenhouses. There is also a consultancy service.
Griffith told Today’s BUSINESS that while she wanted the systems to be in every school across the country to help teach children more about agriculture using modern technologies, her wish was also to see one in most households across the island. She said so far there has been a high level of interest among individuals in the systems, which were becoming increasingly popular around globally.
“You can grow anything using these systems. Anything you can think about, even strawberries and flowers. So there are a range of industries that they can be used in,” she said, adding that some of the structures were built to withstand up to a category-five hurricane.
“My wish is for residents to grow their own food to help them with the rising food prices. We import so many different things, but if you can do some things at your house for yourself then it will help with prices because of the lowering in the demand for those items.
And we can then move to exporting when we grow our own foods and have our greenhouses here. They will not be in every household, but it will still give a little ease when the supply is spread across the local market,” she explained.
It was after completing her online MBA with the University of Edinburgh in business administration, specialising in human resources management, that Griffith immediately wanted to find a new field she could put her theory into practice. She had her sights set on the burgeoning medicinal marijuana industry, but coming out of her research, which started in September 2019, Griffith found that it was very difficult to source greenhouse technology in Barbados. It was then that the idea was born for GreenGrub Barbados.
“So I decided instead of trying to only do my own project, to sell the greenhouses here so people can have access to them rather than having to go through what I went through –trying to find suppliers for every single thing and end up going all over the place,” she said.
Griffith works alongside a business consultant in the United States who does research on hydroponics advances. She is an agent for three companies, two innovative residential indoor and outdoor garden supply stores and the other is a supplier of farm stands, which come in different sizes to allow also for indoor and outdoor farming using nutrient-rich water.
The systems grow crops fully organic and do not require the use of pesticides or herbicides. Some of the systems are able to grow the plants up to three times faster than regular farming suiting controlled temperatures, she explained. Pointing out that many schools around the world were using these types of systems to help students learn about crop farming, Griffith said she has already reached out to the Ministry of Education with the hopes of having them set up in schools in Barbados.
The mother of one said she believed the modernly designed systems that eliminate the hard work known to be associated with traditional agriculture, will be vital in encouraging more young people to get involved in the
sector. “This will help children to understand the importance of growing your own organic food, how to grow it using scientific principles with the technology and it can also use to teach secondary school students how to build their own systems. We need to get into the advances of the smart agriculture industry,” she said.
She told Today’s BUSINESS she also believed the use of hydroponics and aquaponics can help the country cut back on its massive food import bill, which can reach as much as $700 million in a year. She said while the upfront cost may seem a lot for such systems, the pay-off was significant. “It is good for people who want to start a business. It is fully automated so you don’t need a lot of labour or help. You just need one of two persons in the greenhouse,” she added.
“These greenhouses, if we are successful with the national plan of food security and sustainable farming, these will get you there at a low operating cost,” she said, while pointing out that they were best powered by solar energy systems given their high dependency on energy.
Her advice to anyone seeking to own a business at this time is to “research it before you enter it” and “let the internet be your friend”. Griffith said while doing business in Barbados remained a very costly undertaking, she was prepared to take the journey.