By Theresa Goodwin
A vegetable and crop farmer in Burkes was the latest to benefit from a year-long crowdfunding project recently launched by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The micro-financing campaign, #IAmJoiningIICAChallenge, seeks to promote projects aimed at strengthening food security in rural communities in Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda that are suffering from extreme vulnerability in the face of the coronavirus.
Through the project, a number of farmers have received new irrigation systems and other resources which will assist them with production.
A brand-new drip irrigation system was installed yesterday on a 10-acre plant owned by longstanding farmer, Avery “Ranks” Smith.
He told Observer that prior to the installation of the system, he had to water and fertilise his plants manually — a process that will now be easier with the new technology.
“It is a very, very useful system and helpful project because it is a lot of work when you have to do it by hand. And I will also get a good yield,” Smith said.
Smith, has been operating in Burkes — in the vicinity of All Saints — since he inherited the farm more than 20 years ago.
District Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Joel Matthew, said the ministry is currently providing technical assistance and resources to farmers in Burkes and Liberta.
“We have also provided equipment to determine the quality of water that they are using and water meters to measure the volume of water for the crops,” Matthew said.
“It’s a very interesting project that we have embarked on; thanks to IICA and CARDI for providing the materials and sourcing the funds for this project.”
The Permanent Secretary, Colin O’Keiffe, explained that the ministry will be ensuring that farming activity continues after the 12-month lifespan of the project by providing the necessary support that will be needed to the farmers.
Meanwhile, Bradbury Browne, agriculture technician with responsibility for agronomy and irrigation, said the main goal of the project is to introduce farmers to new technology to ensure they are able to produce good quality food despite the current dry season.
IICA and CARDI will also be teaming up to build a seedling nursery for potato and cassava in Barbuda.