Fraser Young, Eco Structure Barbados
In Barbados we have one main problem when it comes to organic food, local supply. As a nation we are haemorrhaging foreign reserves in order to feed ourselves. What is the solution; pure and simple we need to start feeding ourselves as a nation. We need to take control over the quality, availability and price of food in order to help stabilize our economy.
We are in what I refer to as the infancy of our food security. Why would we replace our dependency of foreign food with a new dependency on foreign fertilizers and pesticides? Why would we spray our food with these imported poisons? Yes poison, next time you are in the garden section see how many skull and crossbones you see on products that get sprayed on and around what we eat. These sprays not only contaminate our food but also our drinking water and reef systems.
Organic farming methods have been around for thousands of years. They encourage a balance between food production and a healthy environment. They promote biodiversity and the regeneration of healthy soils, which have been killed by current commercial agricultural practices. Rebuilding soil is easier than one would think and all it takes is layer upon layer of organic material. Within these layers millions of microorganisms thrive at the base of the soil food chain. Healthy soil feeds healthy plants.
Reducing foreign inputs is one of the financial keys. To do this we must look at our very inefficient waste stream that we have in Barbados. By rethinking the waste stream we can create our own compost and use waste to grow free food for both chickens and aquaculture. We can produce pesticides from items that we grow locally such as hot peppers and molasses. By creating farms that use minimal imported items the farmers can reduce their running costs and maximize their profits.
What’s next? Well the next step is to help foster the organic revolution in Barbados. To accomplish this I am in the process of opening up an organic farm and learning centre. This farm will be a free and open resource for all Bajans. Individuals and families can come and learn how they can incorporate organic food gardens into their own households, Schools and groups can come and be inspired to be the next generation of organic farmers and existing farmers can come and learn how to transition into organic farming practices.
This one-acre farm template will allow us to create a fully expandable model. This model can be customized to meet the demand for any local customer, from the individual at the farmer’s box level all the way to the largest hotel. The farmer will then directly control his or her own income, through the level of production. By structuring the farms in this manner, we can create a farming system that creates six-figure salaries for farmers. And that is what we want, farmers who are adequately compensated for their hard work.
The future of agriculture in Barbados is bright. We have recently issued the island’s first organic farm bonds and in the future we will be rolling out larger bond issues in order to grow the capacity for organic farming in Barbados.
Our current bond structure is a 5-year bond returning 12.5% annually. Investors receive not only an annual return but also a weekly farmer’s basket of organic goodies from our farm. This creates a new type of investment vehicle that both locals and foreign investors may find attractive. Investing in a concept that promotes healthy food, bio-diversity, a sustainable environment and a sustainable economy.
My goal for Barbados is simple…I would like to see Barbados become the only country in the world with decreasing food prices and increasing food quality.