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Ministry working to help farmers source water


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Ministry working to help farmers source water

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Relief is on the way for farmers experiencing water shortages on land lease programmes.

This assurance has come from Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir, who revealed yesterday that his ministry was working on securing funding to implement systems at River Plantation, St Philip, and Spring Hall, St Lucy, to ease farmers from the drought conditions.

In the last week of May, farmers operating on the Spring Hall Land Lease programme met with chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, and president of the Barbados Vendors’ Association, Allister Alexander, to formulate an urgent plan of action to address critically low water levels.

At River, about 50 farmers held an emergency meeting on June 7 on the depletion of Browne’s Pond on River Plantation and how the drought was impacting them. By the end of the meeting, an association was formed as it was felt that farmers had a stronger voice if they united.

“Issues with farmers and droughts are nothing new to Barbados. We have spent ten years knowing climate change would impact the island, so why was something not done about it before?” Weir asked.

He said that at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) conference in Rome, he and the permanent secretary met with the hierarchy of the FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development on technical support for a study and funding for River.

“This should be done in the short term so they [farmers] would never again have to complain about sourcing water. I give you my calm assurance that we are going to address the droughts, but those are events we have no control over. But it’s not only droughts; at some point we are going to be battling flooding too.”

Weir was speaking to the media after giving an address at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s Annual Accountability seminar, held in the conference room of the ministry at Graeme Hall, Christ Church. (SB)

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