A High-Level Delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, paid an Official Visit to the offices of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) on Thursday.
The team, which was lead by Minister of Agriculture Dean Jonas, included Permanent Secretary- Mr. Colin O’Keiffe and Director of Agriculture- Ms. Cheryl Edwards.
CARDI’s Representative for Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, Mr. Paul Lucas welcomed the team and led them on a tour of the facility.
Minister Jonas said that he was very impressed with the level of work being done and was delighted to know that CARDI is engaged in the production of seeds to be used as feeds for animals, which is critical especially during the dry period. He stressed the importance of CARDI’s role in boosting food security in Antigua and Barbuda.
Minister Jonas stated, “I’ve seen the seed production facility; the storage facility where they store seeds and the machines that they use to produce the seeds of all varieties peppers, corn- a whole lot of varieties. They also indicated that many of our farmers and even our farmers depot at CMC purchase a lot of seeds from them and this is all very, very important for our national food security.”
The CARDI official stated that they would love to do more in the area of crop production utilizing the over 50 acres of land that is available but he said that they can only cover some 10-15 acres at the moment, due to lack of water and agricultural equipment.
Being now knowledgeable of CARDI’s limitations, the agriculture minister has expressed his commitment to provide the type of machinery required to plough more land and access adequate water supply to facilitate the important process of growing food.
CARDI also utilizes other methods of crop production such as a hydroponics system, a humidity bin and a greenhouse.
Lucas said that the visit was very productive and he was happy to see that the ministry took time out to get a first-hand account of how CARDI operates.
“What we have here is a very extensive Programme looking at seed management, looking at roots and tubers and we are also looking at developing the forage banks. We are doing a lot of work to support the local industry and what we are trying to do is increase the capacity for the local farmers,” Lucas remarked.
The aim of CARDI is to enhance food supply both here and throughout the region for both long and short term purposes.
The goal is to be able to export and supply countries with seeds and support local farmers with the aid of a seed lab which is used to secure top quality seeds for not only Antigua but for the region during periods of drought and the hurricane season.
Currently, CARDI produces and exports vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, cassava, hot peppers, corn, pumpkin and table squash.
Mr. Lucas expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture for its continued support and stated that he intends to establish stronger ties to further develop the agricultural sector here and throughout the region.
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