Climate-smart focus on Barbuda’s agricultural recovery

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Four regional and international agricultural agencies are collaborating to help restore Barbuda’s agricultural sector with emphasis on climate change resilience.
Garden Pool, an international public charity based in Arizona, and another agency, Pasture Manage-ment, will be working with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), on three separate projects at the Sir McChesney George Secondary School.
Representatives from Pasture Management will be seeking to re-model the greenhouse at the secondary school, said to be one of the only structures left standing after Hurricane Irma battered the island in September.
Craig Thomas, the national specialist for IICA, said the main objective of the project is to make the facility more resilient to the effects of climate change.
“We will be installing a model hydroponics system. It will be a full system where they [Barbudans], will be able to rear fish and at the same time grow food. After the hurricane, we found out that there was no storage system in place to allow farmers to get food right away … so we saw the need for this,” Thomas said.
CARDI and IICA are working with Pasture Management to set up small ruminant production on Barbuda.
“We are going to introduce three to four different species of grass in Barbuda, we found out that because of the soil they do not have certain types of grass and legumes. So, we are setting up a demo plot,” Thomas said.
An apiculture project is also on the cards for the sister island.
Apiculture is the practice of bee-keeping for the production of various products such as honey, bee’s wax, et cetera.
Thomas said the organisations will not be transferring bees from Antigua to Barbuda, however, new hive boxes will be created for bees that are already on the island.
He said the bee population in Antigua are being affected by varroa mite – a parasitical insect that negatively affects the reproductive processes of bees.
The pest is threatening to wipe out the bee population in Antigua.
Meantime, Dennis McClung, president and founder of Garden Pool, explained that the agency is aiming to produce vegetables and fish using farming methods which will be of great benefit to the Barbuda people.
“What we have in the greenhouse can increase yield ten to eighteen times over conventional methods in the field. And, if we know that a hurricane is coming, you could actually pick up all of your crops and place them in a shipping container and put it back out later after the storm has passed,” McClung said.
The projects on the sister island began in late October and will be completed in another two weeks.
Nearly 90 percent of the structures on Barbuda were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma, which led to a complete evacuation from the island to Antigua.
Roads, electrical, communications and water systems were also damaged.

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