Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Representative for Eastern Caribbean States, Mr. Gregg Rawlins on his return to Antigua and Barbuda went on a field tour visited several key agricultural stakeholders and farmers to observe the number of interventions by IICA on the ground.
He was accompanied by the IICA National Specialist for Antigua and Barbuda, Craig M. Thomas and Communication’s personnel within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs (MAFBA). Ms. Attieke DeSouza.
The first stop was at the Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Centre (GARDC) where the IICA Representative was able to tour the Vetiver Grass Propagation Nursery which is a collaboration between IICA and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund on Ecosystem-based (EBA). This was facilitated by the Executive Director of GARDC, Ms. June Jackson. Mr. Rawlins expressed how impressed he was with the propagation nursery and was even presented with local handmade vetiver soaps which is under the Green Business Development component.
Next, he visited the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), which was facilitated by CARDI Representative Paul Lucas and CARDI Technician Bradbury Browne, where he was able to see firsthand their extensive research work being carried out at the field station most noticeably the research component of the West Indian Red pepper for seeds production.
He commended CARDI for a job well done in supporting IICA through continuous collaborative effort to support the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, addressing the priority areas.
Ricky Christopher, a beneficiary farmer of several IICA’s interventions, owns and operates his mixed vegetable farm production in the Table Hill Gardens whereby coconut production appears to be his primary income generator.
Mr. Rawlins was amazed to see that Mr. Christopher heavily invested his resources with the use of drip irrigation to administer water to his coconut production. The ECS Representative was even able to indulge in a few varieties of coconuts which had him even more impressed, as he stated the coconut water sampled were the sweetest, he has ever drunk.
The rehabilitation of the Antigua and Barbuda Beekeepers Corporative Headquarters located in Belmont commenced in March 2021. This was due to collaborative work between the Australian Aid Program (DAP), Antigua Beekeepers Corp., IICA and MAFBA and Mr. Rawlins was able to tour the facility with President of the Beekeepers Corp., Mr. Brent Georges.
A visit to the installation site under the CBF-EbA project at the Cooks Landfill was done to observe the vetiver grasses which were propagated and planted along the base of the old landfill. These grasses under the project will act as a filtration to reduce the harmful chemicals and sewage from the landfill which affects the Hanson’s Bay Flashes.
The field tour ended at Anointed Farms in the McKinnons area, which is owned and operated by Neil Gomes, who was a beneficiary of a Crowdfunding Project entitled, “Mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 through the supply of fresh food to rural households,” which was an IICA initiative, through collaboration with MAFBA and CARDI.
The project aimed to assist farmers in Antigua and Barbuda in boosting production on their farms and further contribute to food nutrition and security. Under this initiative Mr. Gomes received drip lines to support his Onion Production a priority crop for MAFBA which he was able to harvest over 4,000lbs.
Overall, the ECS Representative expressed to each partner and farmer how pleased he was with the collaborative work being done in Antigua and Barbuda with IICA to support the Agriculture Sector. He pledges IICA’s continued to support in Antigua and Barbuda as there is great potential for growth in the Sector.
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