“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5

The late E.G.B. Gooding (1915-1987) was a world-renowned Barbadian botanist who carried out classic ecological studies of the island. He also made significant contributions to local agriculture, including crop diversification, the introduction of onion growing and the development of instant yam flakes. He carried out research on over 60 tropical crops and concluded that for our local conditions, it is essential to include efficient cultivation sugar cane in our crop rotations.

The Graham Gooding Trust, a registered charity, was set up in 1990 and is supported by public donations. In the past, it has mounted an annual Graham Gooding lecture and currently funds the Graham Gooding Biology Prize at the University of the West Indies, in Gooding’s memory.

In 2010, the Graham Gooding Trust launched the Eat Bajan Day initiative. Aside from contributing to lowering our carbon footprint, supporting local jobs and reducing our import bill, it results in producing fresher, healthier local food. This year Eat Bajan Day will be on Friday, October 4. The Trustees have arranged to have our annual fundraising Eat Bajan Day Fruit Tree Sale at Carters, Wildey, on Friday and Saturday. Come and buy from a variety of different fruit trees and learn how to care for these trees in your domestic gardens.

Following in the footsteps of Graham Gooding, the late Dr. Frances Chandler CBE, a former trustee of the Graham Gooding Trust, did extensive research on onions to expand the growing season, by selecting a high yielding, disease-tolerant variety with a long shelf life. She also did considerable work on various root, fruit and vegetable crops like yam, melon, lettuce, okra and sweet pepper.

The late Mrs. Carmeta Fraser often reminded us to “Grow what we eat and eat what we grow”.

Dr. Nicholas Earle Brathwaite is a successful engineer, technologist, entrepreneur, multinational business executive and private equity and venture capital investor. In 2015, he delivered the 40th Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture, hosted by the Central Bank of Barbados, on “Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Igniting Economic Growth, Enhancing Global Significance, and Fueling Socio-Economic Development in the Commonwealth Caribbean”.  In this lecture, Dr. Braithwaite promoted the concept that “Agriculture is Big Business”.

Here is a brief insight into the potential agricultural opportunities by category:

(1) Crops – ornamentals, fruits, herbs, spices, oils, organic, aloe vera, cotton, sugar cane, vegetables, root crops, forestry, composting and craft;

(2) Livestock – eggs, poultry, pork, dairy, beef, black belly lamb and chevon;

(3) Fisheries – commercial fish farming e.g., red tilapia and red claw crayfish and fishing (offshore and deep-sea) within our territorial waters for the local food market, exotic aquarium fish and sports fishing;

(4) Agro-processing – processed crops (sweet potato chips), processed animals, rum and sea island cotton fabric; and

(5) Sericulture – silk production and vermiculture.

If the total available arable land in the Caribbean were to produce these outputs to its full potential, given the use of modern technology, then the whole supply output would be a significant stimulus to the increase of agricultural economic growth. Even though the regional market footprint is too small to absorb this potential output, the global market would have no such challenge.

A global market thrust must be the vision of the social partnership with the private sector doing the agricultural business and the government providing a user-friendly enabling environment.

There is no shortage of opportunities, but we need vision and action which must include seed/equity/working capital finance and shepherding to mitigate the risk of failure. There is much in terms of agricultural legacies that our planners may use as a solid foundation to build our future in agriculture. Let us work smarter and not reinvent the wheel.

Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is basilgf57@gmail.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com and on www.facebook.com/basilgf.