Recent experiences following hurricanes in the USA and Caribbean, where some persons didn’t have access to food for two or more days, have highlighted the importance of “food security”. This is further bolstered by the ever increasing world population that is rapidly approaching 8 billion, a whopping 11% of whom, according to the FAO, are already experiencing some degree of hunger.
Any food policy must consider stability or resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various threats or risk factors including lack of foreign exchange, droughts, floods , shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, and wars. Continue reading
Global warming is a real phenomenon. We’re already experiencing its effects in terms of climate extremes resulting in drought , flooding and severe hurricanes. A warmer world will also affect food production, in terms of quality and quantity, in several ways:
- reduced seed germination under high soil temperatures, resulting in sparse crops stands
- negative effect on photosynthesis, ultimately leading to reduced growth and lower crop yields
- reduced pollen viability which then becomes a major limiting factor for fruit set
- delayed floral formation resulting in smaller fruits
- increased damage to crops from bacteria, fungi, and insect pests
- Increased weed competition for moisture, nutrients, and light since weeds are better adapted to drought conditions than crops. In addition, herbicidal controls are less effective under hot and dry conditions.
Local farmers must pay attention to soil management so as to conserve our valuable topsoil.
Soil is composed of four elements: mineral particles, organic matter, water and air. Fifty to eighty percent of the volume consists of mineral particles which form the skeletal structure of most soils. In addition there are countless soil organisms that together support life on earth.
Soil has four important functions It’s a : medium for plant growth; a means of water storage, supply and purification; a modifier of earth’s atmosphere; a habitat for organisms; all of which, in turn, modify the soil Continue reading
The Importance of Agriculture
The agricultural sector in Barbados doesn’t get the respect it deserves. But it’s been known for a long time that a dollar spent in agriculture is recycled, on average, more than six times in the economy which is more than a dollar spent in any other economic sector.
The reason for this is that other sectors are also dependent on agriculture. Too often agricultural discussions focus narrowly on the “on-farm” or production aspects but the agricultural sector also involves:
- Input supply: management, labour (skilled and unskilled), equipment, and equipment repairs, planting material, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides et al;
- Postharvest: Handling, storage, transport and distribution, processing, marketing, and sales.
This is the first in a series of articles produced by the Barbados Society of Technologists in Agriculture (BSTA) to better inform Barbadians on issues related to agriculture that should be of interest to all. Continue reading
In recent times we have been hearing constantly of the need to reduce costs of production of crops as well as the need to reduce our dependence on imported inputs. There are a number of things we can do in this regard, but few farmers seem to be taking this issue seriously. Continue reading
The importance of food security for Barbados was recognized many years ago, especially during the Second World War when shipping was under threat and imports of food could not be relied upon. Local farmers were encouraged to increase their production of food crops and reduce the islandâ€™s reliance on overseas shipments. They responded positively and the effort successfully took Barbados safely through some difficult times. Continue reading
â€œFor your country
If you plan for a year – sow paddy
If you plan for a decade – plant trees
If you plan for the future – nurture youth”
Taken from 1992 Youth Policy Document for India
As we noted in our last column, agriculture has been defined as â€œthe art, science and industry of managing the growth of plants and animals for human useâ€ and agricultural science as â€œa broad multidisciplinary field that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agricultureâ€. Continue reading
A key theme that emerges is that agriculture potentially benefits more proportionally than other sectors but also suffers more from constraints to benefiting
In the last column we promised to turn our attention to highlighting the successes which have been achieved in agriculture by a number of pro- active entrepreneurs, in spite of the constraints which exist in the agricultural industry. This week we will deal with the area of crop production. Continue reading
At this time of global food shortages, much has been said about the need to ensure our food security and sovereignty. However our actions have not, in many cases, matched our words. We must realize that the total responsibility does not lie with government alone, it does not lie with supermarkets alone, it is the collective responsibility of all Barbadians. Continue reading