New EU support for Barbados
Barbados to benefit from APP programme
Barbados’ indigenous Blackbelly sheep, as well as local herbs, spices and condiments have been earmarked for development under a European Union-funded Agriculture Policy Programme (APP).
The four-year partnership, valued at 8.6 million Euros, was officially launched here yesterday between the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.
“We are working mainly on three value chain groups mainly – small ruminants, sheep and goats; the herbs, spices and condiments sector; and roots and tubers,” said Ena Harvey, IICA’s Representative for Barbados and Management Coordinator for the Caribbean region.
She noted that “roots and tubers especially have an important role to play in food and nutrition security” since “we import a whole lot of our food and our root and tubers represent a component for our carbohydrate diet, where we could replace a lot of the imported wheat flour and processed wheat products with cassava, with the aroids, sweet potatoes, which are healthier for us and which are grown here,” Harvey added.
The IICA official pointed out that the Blackbelly sheep was an authentic Barbadian product with alot of commercial potential. However, she said the industry would need to be developed in a strategic way.
“So the agencies together with the Ministry of Agriculture, we are working on a lot of experience and expertise in the Greenland Station especially, where they have been tracking the genetics of improvement of our sheep and they know which farmers have the top genetic stocks.
A group of 15 farmers with high breed sheep has been identified by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). However, the herbs and condiments component is yet to be finalized.
“There is a core of farmers that we will start with, about 12-15 farmers, who have good quality animals and who have good committed sheep farmers and we will move from that core as we widen. But we start with a small, manageable core and institute good models for lifestock management for the nutrition trials.
“On the herb side, we have a cluster of persons from production right up to the market,” she said.
Other beneficiary countries of the APP are Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica a, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago.