Unnecessary barrier to growth
While he would like to power his organic farm with renewable energy, Manager of Nature’s Produce Tim Walsh says the fact that he cannot get insurance is a major hindrance.
Walsh said he had already installed solar panels, the energy from which was being stored in batteries, and used to some extent on a part of his 126-acre farm, mainly in his aqua-culture programme. But, he noted, that to do it on a massive scale in a way that would allow more use of such solar power, would require financing he does not have and cannot get because he cannot get insurance.
Of the total space, 80 acres was arable land, including 15 in vegetables and herbs, 25 for the orchard and six for the aqua-culture green houses.
Speaking about his vegetable and herb gardens, some of which utilise hydroponics and raised beds, he told a visiting University of the West Indies and Barbados Agricultural Society workshop of farmers, that there were several challenges.
“You can imagine that setting up something this size is quite a substantial investment. We cannot get insurance. There are no commercial houses which are going to insure this project. So when you are thinking about, and whoever is involved in the lobbying on the issues of what goes on for the farmers, that is one of the biggest issues when you look at investing a million dollars…”
Noting that he had been hit by a few storms and other weather systems in the past, Walsh added: “I had a policy out and basically they refused to renew it. It’s not encouraging agriculture. So now we’ve been out and we are shopping and trying to get the policies out again, but it’s very, very difficult and when we talk about finance, how are you going to get finance. If you don’t have the insurance, you can’t finance it.”
He said most of the farm’s electricity came from the national grid, although he had solar panels.
“We have a set of solar panels on the other side, but basically for us here if you can’t insure your project, you are going to sit there and what, spend all this money on panels with a ten to 15 year payback period and then you can’t be guaranteed that it will be covered?” (LB)