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    December 09

  • 09:01 PM

Fresh take on farming

Shawn Cumberbatch,

Added 19 May 2014

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Faced with burdensome energy costs and other expensive inputs, Barbados’ farming community is to get a helping hand from a leading regional coalition of non-governmental organisations based here. The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), with the financial assistance of the United Nations Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) Barbados Office, is about to start a major effort to promote renewable energy production on local farms. GEF/SCP is providing a $100 000 grant to CPDC for the project which has an overarching climate change mitigation focus, while “co-financing in kind” is $174 976. Project proposals seen by BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY said the goal was to “enhance the application of renewable energy technologies on farms in Barbados” and to “demonstrate the opportunities available” through the use of photovoltaic energy systems for electrical production, biogas production for heating, and solar drying for crop production. According to the five page call for proposals/terms of reference document, the overall project objectives were to “map existing farm practices and assess opportunities for the use of renewable energy sources on farms in Barbados, establish one demonstration farm showcasing the practical application and utility of alternative and renewable energy sources for farms, train 30 farmers in Barbados to effectively install and utilise renewable energy sources on their farms, [and] facilitate multi-sectoral dialogue around the opportunities and barrier to the use of renewable energy in the agricultural sector”. The first objective of CPDC is hiring a “Barbados-based consultant”, with the contract period running from May 24 to July 18. “The agricultural sector in the region is also a high user of fossils as direct inputs to farm activities. This places the sector in a highly vulnerable position. High operational costs – especially electricity, water, and other inputs – continue to increase as a result of fuel costs. This has forced some farmers to cut back or end production. High costs and low returns have led to increasing use of pesticides, low interest in farming among youth and growing issues regarding food sovereignty [or lack thereof],” CPDC said. “In this context, the deployment of renewable energy technologies (RETs) is particularly relevant for Barbados. The climatic conditions make the island an ideal setting for such initiatives. However, a number of barriers exist to the effective implementation and widespread use of RETs. Two of the key barriers, especially for producers in the agricultural sector, are the capital intensive nature of RETs and lack of awareness.”

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