Gov’t starts initiative encouraging Barbadians to grow own food
By Sheria Brathwaite
The government has launched an initiative aimed at encouraging Barbadians to grow some of the foods they eat.
In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme’s Small Grant Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and local stakeholders such as the Government Information Service and the National Conservation Commission, the campaign Grow Green Barbados has been created.
The initiative is a series of videos that will be aired on national television as well as government websites and social media pages, showing Barbadians that starting and maintaining an organic backyard garden is easy to do.
It also highlights the various ways vegetables can be used in meals in an appealing way.
During the launch of the campaign held at United Nations House, Hastings, Christ Church, on Monday, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir said it was important that Barbadians know how to feed themselves given the uncertainties impacting the island and the wider region.
“The world’s agenda is no longer about oil and gas. Oil and gas has now been replaced by renewable energy and the number one item on the agenda is, in fact, food security and it is food security because of the climate crisis,” he said.
Weir said there were multiple international issues having a significant impact on Barbadians’ quality of life and it was necessary for the island to prepare itself for the worst.
“Prior to 2020, we didn’t think that global economic activity would scale down to the extent that we will go back to the dark days or similar to the dark days where countries were cut off from each other by way of trade. And if that was not an eye-opener for all of us, then you had the Suez Canal [in Egypt] hold-up where ships couldn’t get through the canal. And that contributed in large measure to the increase in prices that we have on the shelves today in the supermarkets.
“But were that not enough, then you had the Russia and Ukraine conflict which drove prices up, given the fact that the cost of fertilisers went up, given that Russia and Ukraine are the major producers . . . . And my greatest concern for Barbados is that we need to come to terms with the fact that if you isolate yourself from what is taking place, you have essentially created your own problem because this is not gonna be an easy time for any of us, especially under circumstances where the world is now in a poly crisis. You do not know what will come next,” he said.
Referring to these as warning signs, Minister Weir said we must “put ourselves in a position where we can feed ourselves”.
“I can’t guarantee your safety, but you will be safer if everybody can ‘eat a food’,” he said.
While delivering her remarks, web and social media senior officer at the Government Information Service Kathyann Husbands said the project was a “prime opportunity to educate the public about growing and cooking their own food in a limited but environmentally friendly space”.
She said the first episode airs this Friday and each episode would also feature chef Adrian Cumberbatch preparing a special, organic-based meal.
Representative of the United Nations Development Programme to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Limya Eltayeb said that while it was important to have solidarity with other nations as global issues transcended countries and continents, it was just as important that countries practised self-sufficiency and were self-reliant, noting that the resilience of a country started with the resilience of its households.
The launch took place on October 16, the day internationally recognised as World Food Day.