Senior Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Michael James, believes the conclusion of The Farm-Able Livelihoods Project for Persons with Disabilities proves that being disabled does not affect one’s ability to contribute to their nation.
He was speaking at the graduation ceremony for the project which took place at the Derrick Smith School & Vocational Centre last Friday.
“What this project has brought out is the fact that disability does not mean inability and that is super important. Agriculture allows you to put your talents in a sector that is important. No matter who you are, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan, you have to eat.
“That was an issue that came up during the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. People realised that in order to get some of the things they wanted to eat, they would have to grow it themselves.”
He continued: “Life is not always about working, it is also about expressing yourself in different ways. Now that you have completed this project, keep on learning and trying things in different ways because what you are doing will impact us later on.”
Representative for Barbados at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Allister Glean, echoed his sentiments, expressing his pride in the fact that the project was a success.
“I like the fact that this project took place because I am always talking about food security being everyone’s business. The Government is always pushing the need to decrease the food import bill and my philosophy has always been that we need all hands on deck. This project was instrumental in getting young persons on board, in getting persons some say are disabled, but frankly from the work I saw being done, I couldn’t see any disabilities. I saw people committed to food production.”
Glean added: “We at IICA want to continue working with the disabled community and our partners Scotiabank and the Barbados Environmental Conservation Trust (BECT) and more importantly, the young people which we will engage with for phase two of this project.”
The second phase will look at entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities for those who are seeking to be independent food producers in the local agriculture market.
Lana Fingall, the Senior Manager and Team Lead of Scotiabank, said that the Bank’s eagerness to be a part of this initiative was why they completely funded it at the estimated cost of $50 000.
“We believe that each person should be enabled to reach their fullest potential regardless of who they are, with their differences and similarities embraced. Providing opportunities for full and equal social and economic participation is beneficial, not only to those with disabilities, but also to their surrounding societies. It allows them to contribute fully to the wellbeing of their families and the wider society on a whole, making Barbados a better place.”
Sixty-two students from the Challenor Training Centrw, Derrick Smith School & Vocational Centre, Ann Hill School and the Irving Wilson School were incorporated into food sustainability and environmental conservation projects such as aquaponics, sustainable agriculture systems for crop production, rabbit and poultry rearing. (JC)