BARBADOS NEEDS TO explore further the prospects of permaculture and organic production, if the island’s natural resources, particularly its coastal and marine resources, are to be protected.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Esworth Reid, made this point as he addressed the opening of the Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute (CPRI) at the Ministry’s Graeme Hall, Christ Church, headquarters recently.
Permaculture is a holistic design science for meeting the needs of humanity to the benefit of the environment. This method of agriculture ensures the development of agricultural ecosystems which are sustainable and self-sufficient.
“This organic production like permaculture and any other forms of organic production is something that we need to focus on,” Reid said.
He explained that following the organic route was beneficial, as chemicals used in agriculture could be destructive to the underground water, the island’s marine life and the coral reefs.
Noting that establishing linkages between agriculture and tourism were important, the Permanent Secretary stressed that it was not just about selling produce, but about protecting the tourism product.
“In fact, it can destroy our tourism industry by destroying the coral and beautiful beaches due to the dangerous chemicals that are used,” he explained, adding that some fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides used on farms could destroy the natural environment.
National Coordinator of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme of the United Nations Development Programme, Barbados and the OECS, David Bynoe, said such investments in organic farming and permaculture were significant as they promoted social and economic benefits.
He noted that the 15-acre site for the CPRI provided a safe haven against hurricane impacts, for fisheries, reduced land degradation and protected wildlife. “Preserving this site is turning a potential crisis into an opportunity,” he said.
The CPRI, established with US$50 000 seed financing from the GEF programme, offers a 72-hour permaculture design course, which trains people to become designers of their own gardens, communities and businesses.
Permaculture design consultant and teacher at the Institute, Kenton Zerbin, explained that the facility was in the process of becoming NVQ and CVQ certified through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council, and targeted all those who want to be connected with food security or were interested in building a community. (BGIS)