Inter-island cargo service on stream
THE BARBADOS-BASED cargo ship Schooner Ruth is expected to start transporting inter-island cargo during the third quarter of 2016.
The interior of the vessel is currently being fitted out, with focus on installing solar refrigeration equipment.
Launched in December 2014, the small cargo vessel is a pilot of the Caribbean Sail Cargo Initiative project of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus’ Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship in partnership with SV Ruth Ltd.
“What we want to do is create a sail cargo fleet where Schooner Ruth is the first ship, is operating sustainably, working within the green economy and is reducing consumption of fossil fuel. Although Schooner Ruth is a very small vessel with only a capacity to carry 50 tonnes, we are already looking at another existing vessel, which if the financing becomes available through the Climate Mitigation Fund, we will have a 400 tonne vessel, which we can put into servicing Guyana. In the future we are looking at large vessels plying the Caribbean with highly technologically advanced sail systems, which can carry grain and other bulk commodities,” said Ian Dash, director of SV Ruth Ltd.
Following a meeting with stakeholders this week, Dash said Barbados needs to reduce its reliance on food imports from outside the region.
“We have to come back, in my view, to sourcing our food and our fresh food from our neighbours in the Caribbean Community, such as Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and St Lucia, Dominica and indeed from ourselves because we are just sending all of our hard-earned capital overseas and we should be keeping it here where we can use it to develop our social services,” he said.
The agency, PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages) funded by Global Affairs Canada has been giving critical support to the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship for the project.
It has provided financing to the tune of US$70 000 and has committed a further US$37 000.
“We’ve been using funding from the Government of Canada to support the whole refrigeration and solar component of the project. We like the idea that this is an environmentally-friendly initiative that we see three things coming out of. It is a an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation, we like the idea that it is going to get produce across the Caribbean using refrigerated means and we can do training in agricultural practices, especially in terms of handling fresh produce,” said deputy director of PROPEL, Munish Persaud.
“We would now like to get a little more involved from the market systems perspective because I believe that together we would be able to see the boat sailing between Dominica and Barbados with fresh produce faster.”
Agribusiness marketing consultant at PROPEL, Nadia Paquette-Anselm is also keen on seeing the vessel operating between Barbados and Dominica.
“Most of our small vessels or schooners sail north-bound out of Dominica so you will see that a lot of the trade involving fresh produce occurs between Dominica and the northern islands of the Caribbean. We have some schooners that go south-bound as far as Martinique. We’ve been trading with Barbados for some time right now, but we’ve had our bottlenecks as it relates to trade because of some issues relating to vessels and availability of vessel and we recognise that with Schooner Ruth we can create an opportunity for trade of fresh produce between Dominica and Barbados,” she said.
A training component is attached to the Caribbean Sail Cargo Initiative.
As a result, arrangements have been made with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic for the provision of shore-based training in association with the Caribbean Fisheries Development Institute.
Discussions are also underway with representatives of the Barbados Youth Service regarding providing candidates who are interested in seafaring as a vocation. (PR)