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Potential in agriculture sector


PHILIP HUNTE 

Potential in agriculture sector

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Empowerment of Barbadians should be high on the agenda of planners after almost 50 years of political independence.

Free education from nursery to tertiary brought about a fundamental social and economic transformation of this country. A set of villagers, we are now a sovereign nation state.

We need to give people land to work. These hundreds of acres of idle land could be subdivided into five-acre lots and allocated to young people who are interested in farming. Obviously there would need to be strict conditions and obligations.

There is enough technical expertise to nurture these small farmers along the way, from preparation of the land, cultivation, planting, reaping and post-harvest management to marketing. Also small co-ops are ideally suited at this juncture.

It is a perennial eyesore to see our landscape under bush and a haven for rats and other vermin when they should and could be under viable cash crops and livestock farming.

What about cultivating coconut trees for producing water, jelly, grated coconut for baking? Also coconut oil, especially extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil.

Modern research has proven that this is the king of oils, for providing instant energy and to stave off brain degeneration, which is manifest in dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases, growing scourges among the elderly in Barbados.

The local market for this amazing fruit is inestimable. Any surplus could be exported. Methods are being developed to improve the shelf life of the water of this product, hence the potential for export.

Coconut trees would also protect the soils from erosion. They are a hardy plant and would resist high winds especially in the event of a storm and hurricane strike. There are varieties of dwarf coconuts which are ideally suited for this purpose.

Moringa is a tropical plant which has proven nutritional and health benefits. lt can be used as a tea, in shakes or in powdered form. Its benefits have been proven by the author. Also in powdered form it is of great benefit with export potential.

We can produce this on a wide scale, process and package it attractively. In other words, add value to the raw product, and target our neighbours and the markets of the developed world.

Our black belly sheep is unique for its proliferativeness. The meat of this animal is unrivalled in its quality with low fat and the breed multiplies exponentially and is adapted to local conditions. We can establish a Blackbelly sheep industry for meat, hides for tanning and the leather industry, and for export as we once did, all the while keeping the best specimens in Barbados. We should have the copyright for this unique breed of animal and brand it as quintessentially Barbadian.

The Sea Island cotton, on which a lot of research was done, is another product which is a potential money spinner. Why can’t we achieve the backward and forward linkages to market this fine product to the rest of the world? By adding value to this product there must be niches, at home, in the wider Caribbean and globally, instead of giving it away to the Japanese, just to earn paltry foreign exchange.

We need to move away from the planning, towards implementation.

We possess a portfolio of potential money earners which we need to develop, but there is no political will. It is necessary to empower and mobilise the populace.

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