Barbados Future Centre Trust: LAND USE & AGRICULTURE, Sunday 24 June – 4:00 pm at Lower Greys Tenantry, St George

On Sunday June 24 at 4pm in the Lower Greys Tenantry, St George, local environmental Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Future Centre Trust, will be presenting an informal, but nationally relevant, public meeting. The meeting will discuss, among other things, land use policies in relation to agricultural lands and the ability for the country to feed itself in light of the recent change of use of agricultural lands in the area.

Speakers at the event include Senator Dr Frances Chandler O.B.E., Dr Chelston Brathwaite {FEATURED PHOTO – FILE IMAGE, SUMMER ARTS FESTIVAL 2012}, Retired Senator and agricultural specialist Mr Keith Laurie, Ms Mia Mottley, and Ms Keeley Holder. The public are invited to hear presentations by the speakers and engage in discussion with a view to deliver the public view to Minister Estwick in support of his pleas in recent weeks.

Event organiser and Board Director of the Future Centre Trust, Kammie Holder, explained that the reason for this public event which follows on from the recent Town Hall Meetings implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, was to offer the general public the chance to further explore this issue in an open forum.

“With a food import bill of over $700 million, all must be concerned,” says Holder. “It cannot be sustainable in our small country. This change of use of agricultural lands to housing must be more regulated. Housing is important but must not be at the expense of our fertile arable land and our food security,” he added.

Agriculture has come under the spotlight in recent weeks with the Minister of Agriculture himself standing up for his portfolio threatening resignation if Agriculture was not taken more seriously. With a greater dependence on internationally sourced food supplies, the country is putting itself at threat.

“Pricing, supply, freshness of supply and access are all outside our control when imported food is on the shopping list!” says Nicole Garofano, Administrative Director of the Future Centre Trust. “Like a dependence on imported oil for the supply of the country’s electricity, dependence on external food crops simply because we are not recognising the value of our lands and improving those lands to feed ourselves, is detrimental to development in the long term,” she also observed.

  • During World War II, the late Sir John Saint spearheaded a national initiative which ensured that agricultural lands of the time were able to supply food to the population. The region’s supplies were under threat with U boat activity across the Atlantic. Sir John recognised the threat and implemented this national initiative which enabled the people of Barbados to sustain themselves during that time. A brave move for the time, but it worked. Can Barbados learn from such innovative plans of old and work towards attaining some measure of food sustainability again?

There is the argument that speaks to the use of agricultural lands and that many acres of land which used to produce food and sugar crops are now lying dormant, so why can’t we just turn those over the money generator which housing is? The change of use of these lands is not just about agriculture.

People need to work in agriculture; support from many levels needs to be in place to continue agriculture; encouragement for the revitalisation of the industry from all sectors needs to be in place to successfully continue agriculture. All of these points are valid. But we must also consider the many other benefits of leaving agricultural lands as they are – they reduce loss of valuable rainwater which recharges our aquifers; they reduce run off; they reduce something called the ‘heat-island effect’ which increases heat in the local area when there is so much concrete in place. More concrete is more heat, is more electricity to run fans and air conditioners, is less water available, is less open spaces where the population can improve their peace of mind.

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