Shade house project: Programme underway for persons with disabilities to participate

…as President tours facilities with Barbadian PM

Reaping successes with its shade house initiative under the National Agricultural Research and Extension institute (NAREI), Government is now formulating a programme so that persons with disabilities can participate.

Cauliflower plants thriving at the NAREI shade house facility

President Irfaan Ali led Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley and Prime Minister of St Lucia, Philip Joseph Pierre on a tour of the hydroponics farm and shade house project at NAREI, where updates on the project were provided.
It fits into the bigger picture of ensuring the Caribbean Community secures its 25 per cent reduced food import bill by 2025. Both regional leaders are in Guyana as the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum opened this week.
Over 200 shade houses were built across the country this year – 140 of which were established in schools.

President Irfaan Ali along with Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley and Prime Minister of St Lucia, Philip Joseph Pierre on a tour of the hydroponics farm and shade house project at NAREI on Tuesday

For 2023, some five tonnes of bell peppers were produced along with one tonne of chili peppers, 2.4 tonnes of cauliflower and over 300,000 heads of lettuce. Some 75 per cent of persons involved in this initiative have moved on to own their own agricultural business.
There are 25,000 plants in the hydroponics nursery and this capacity will reach 100,000 within the next two weeks. Crops include mint, celery, parsley, pak choi, cucumber, kale, basil, chives, thyme among others.
This operation is being conducted on 10 acres of land, using 90 by 40 feet shade houses. Using traditional methods, it would require a larger area of land, estimated at about 30 acres. Produce is used to supply hotels and the remainder is agro-processed.
Hydroponics is one of the modern technologies being embraced by Government as it seeks to support Caricom’s vision of slashing the food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
Last year, the Agriculture Ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Israeli company KARLICO INC, making way for the development of a massive hydroponics project.
With an estimated investment of US$15,750,000, the project was set to involve a three-phase hydroponic production system based on nutrient film techniques and soilless production systems designed for the production of fresh herbs, lettuce and other leafy vegetables, as well as other high-value crops.
Government will be building out two new hydroponics facilities in the near future in Linden and Essequibo to the tune of $200 million each. Last Friday, President Ali announced that such projects will provide employment for scores of youths.
Vision 25 by 2025 was conceptualised by President Ali for a 25 per cent reduction in the Region’s food import bill by the year 2025. Owing to the Region’s dependency on imported foods, it faces hardships when disruptions occur.
As of 2022, the Region achieved 57 per cent of the production target towards reducing the food import bill. Over the next two years, more than 1.4 metric tonnes of commodities must be produced to achieve this target. (G12)