‘Put more land into farming’
Too much land is being left fallow while the island could be producing more of the food residents consume.
Jean Lowry, the Inter-American Institute for Coorporation on Agriculture’s (IICA) representative to Barbados, said there was no escaping the competition between using a piece of land for residential and agricultural purposes.
She said, however, there were pieces of land across the island that could be put back into food production.
“It is disconcerting when you see great land going into residential. It is not good to see but that is what the planning departments are supposed to look after.
“What I would see more of an issue is that the land is just sitting there. It’s fallow. How much of the land out there is simply going wasted and yet you have people looking for land for various projects to get into farming,” she said.
“And I am not sure [of] the various programmes that are in place as to how much land is available, but my understanding is that it’s small parcels of land and then you look at the economies of scale, trying to farm on a acre or less that is a bit questionable. I think that is where some emphasis could be had,” said Lowry.
And while the Government was doing what it could in making some land available for farming, the agricultural official said private owners of lands that were suitable for farming should do the same.
“I don’t have those numbers in terms of how much is there but maybe it’s time for some sort of mentorship programme between those with the land and those who want to do something to the land,” she said.
She pointed out, however, based on her interaction with some landowners, they were willing to allow people to farm on their land but they wanted arrangements that would also benefit them.
“It is the same with these folks that are doing protected agriculture. They are not averse to having interns or trainees come in and work in their facilities so they can actually learn how to operate these systems,” said Lowry.
Given the rise in unemployment and persistent economic challenges, the agriculturalist said she hoped more people would take the opportunity to get involved in planting their kitchen garden and continue to support locally produced items.
“I think people really are trying, those who can are. But I don’t know if they are actually able, under these [economic] circumstances to really maximize that,” added Lowry.
She told Barbados TODAY the challenge was to get the younger generation to have a greater appreciation for growing more of what they eat and cut down on the amount of fast food they consumed.