From Wadadli to Waitukubuli
Vetiver-based business green businesses from Antigua (Wadadli), travel to the origins of their raw material in Dominica (Waitukubuli)
Community engagement is important for grass-roots solutions to encourage a change in perspectives and practices for building self-reliance and resilience. This is so both within and across communities, especially those who are involved in similar sustainable livelihood activities.
June Jackson, Director from the Gilbert Agriculture Rural Development Centre (GARDC) and Cheryl Samuel, member of the Antigua and Barbuda Network of Rural Women Producers/Agro-Processors and owner of Bajez Soaps, got the opportunity to be part of a peer-to-peer exchange to Dominica between June 8 and 11, 2023. They were accompanied by Technical Specialist, Craig Thomas, IICA Antigua and Barbuda and hosted by Technical Specialist Kent Coipel of IICA Dominica.
A must-stop was the Kalinago territory, the source of the 6,500 vetiver grass plantlets exported to Antigua two years ago, under the IICA-CBF EbA project. These plants seeded two vetiver nurseries in Antigua, the first of their kind, to propagate vetiver grass for green engineering works in the Cooks Landfill, and importantly, to provide raw material for green craft, bath, home and body value added products. The trio from Wadadli toured the all-female group managing the vetiver nursery in Dominica and received first-hand testimony of the importance of the vetiver grass for the Kalinago peoples and for community-based sustainable land management and livelihoods. Their visit with local crafters was particularly inspiring, as they marveled at the range of vetiver-crafted mats, bags, and hats. And of course, the opportunity was taken to gift-back vetiver products made in Antigua, such as, an assortment of soaps, pillow mist and incense from the Dominica grass, as proof of the business potential of the vetiver products as a growing niche industry in the Caribbean.
Next stop, visits to the steep slopes of Waitukubli, where poor practices coupled with climate change impacts, are evident in landslides and undermining of homes in and around Petite Soufriére, San Sauveur and Good Hope. The difference between using vetiver hedgerows in a Dominica landscape and at the Cooks Landfill in Antigua couldn’t be more vivid, especially at the site of the November 2022 landslide. The soil-holding power of the deep-rooted vetiver grass was very visible.
The Wadadli-Waitukubuli vetiver community visit wrapped up by exchanging lessons learned in promoting green business product development, entrepreneurship and business establishment and marketing. The discussion on ideas on unique approaches to product development, product branding and most importantly the business mindset, especially working within a community group, was not only valuable for the interest and information generated, but more so, for the networking opportunities that could be expanded between these two communities. With its focus on youth development, GARDC’s June Jackson encouraged the local group to include and involve youth as much as possible, and to take advantage of their innovation and use of social media platforms for business visibility and marketing.
This community exchange was part of the IICA-CBF project “Strengthening Coastal and Marine Climate Resilience through Upland and Coastal Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Community
Engagement” being implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, and Tobago, funded under the CBF EbA Facility, financed by the Government of Germany, German Development Bank (KfW) with resources from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION DIVISION SEEDLING DISTRIBUTION WELL ON THE WAY
ECS Representative visits Antigua and Barbuda
WORLD BEE DAY 2023
Since 2018, the United Nations has observed “World Bee Day”, in appreciation of the work done in apiculture (beekeeping) by the Slovenia Government, in collaboration with Apimondia. The day is also recognized in honor of Anton Jansa (a Carniolan Apiarist and Slovenian pioneer of modern apiculture) for his revolutionary contribution to the modernization of beekeeping. He was born on May 20, 1734 therefore, the UN General Assembly declared that date as the day to commemorate and specifically highlight the importance of bees and beekeeping.
This year’s theme, “Bee Engaged in Pollinator-friendly Agricultural Production” is very appropriate, especially as pollinators such as bees, butterflies, bats and humming birds are under very serious threat. In our region, bees are one of the main pollinators and probably one of the least understood insects. Although related to the wasp and ant they should never be considered as pests but rather as pollinators.
Here are some interesting facts about our pollinator-friends.
- There are three main types of bees i.e., Queen, Drone and worker
- The average life span of a Queen is between 3-4 years
- A Queen can lay up to 800,000 eggs in her lifetime
- The average life span of a worker is 21 days
- Bees usually forage within a three-mile radius of their colony
- Bees can fly up to 12 miles per hour
- A single bee can produce one tablespoon of honey in its lifetime
- A Queen bee is the largest in the hive
- There can only be one Queen bee per hive
- A Queen bee only leaves the hive to mate
- There are at least 5,700 species of bees
“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” So said Albert Einstein. More and more, many farmers here and abroad know and appreciate the importance of our winged, flying friends. According to Brent Georges, President of the Beekeepers Cooperative, the link between beekeeping and agriculture is a very significant one because crops require pollination for them to reproduce. Pollinators are significant participants in the cultivation of crops, especially tropical fruits such as mangoes and watermelons and contribute to the constant supply of food to include honey, wax, pollen, propolis and other products. “Today [when] Food Security is the talk of the year, it should not be underestimated, that bees and other pollinators are critical to our survival here in Antigua and Barbuda [and should be treated as such]. So, in recognition of World Bee Day, we place special emphasis on the protection of our local bee population.”
Einstein also said that “without bees the world would perish.” Here in Antigua and Barbuda it is estimated that over 70% of what we produce and consume depend on pollination by bees.
We are at a disadvantage if we become oblivious to our environment and its occupants, both living and non-living. The onus is therefore on us to become informed about the Honeybee, our pollinating ally.
FAO PROJECT SUPPORTS FEMALE FARMERS
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PLANT HEALTH – PLANT HEALTH FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Prepared and submitted by Dr. Janil Gore-Francis – Chief Plant Protection Officer
Today, May 12th, the world brings its focus to the important issue of plant health in the second observation of the International Day of Plant Health under the theme “Plant health for environmental protection”. We may wonder why there is need for such an observation? Well, here are the facts:
- 80% of what we eat comes from plants!
- 98% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by plants!
- The annual value of trade in agricultural products has grown almost threefold over the last 10 years, and it is projected that a 60% increase in agricultural production is needed to feed the world by 2050!
- 40% of crops are lost each year due to pests and diseases!
- The abundance of beneficial insects have declined in abundance by 80% due to human activity (e.g., deforestation, land use change, misuse of pesticides and other harmful chemicals) and other environmental factors (e.g., extreme weather conditions due to climate change).
Plant health is inextricably linked to the health of the environment, and plant pests can have a significant impact on the environment, causing damage to crops, reduction in yields, economic losses and spread of plant disease. Indirectly, plant pests disrupt food chains and pest outbreaks can lead to a reduction in the population of insect-eating birds and mammals, leading to a decline in biodiversity.
In the era of quick fixes, we generally try to find a rapid a solution to resolve pest problems and most turn to the use and application of pesticides. We should be wary of the fact that the improper use of pesticides to control plant pests can have serious adverse effects on the environment by contaminating the soil, the air we breathe, and the water we drink!! Pesticides can also harm non-target organisms, such as beneficial insects, birds, and mammals.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
To protect our environment, there is a part that we all can play in the choices we make to keep our plants healthy. We can:-
- Use organic fertilizers: Organic fertilizers are made from natural materials and do not contain harmful chemicals. They can help improve soil health, promote plant growth, and reduce the risk of soil contamination.
- Adopt sustainable pest management practices: Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method of pest management that uses a combination of techniques to control pests, including cultural, biological, and chemical control methods. This approach can help reduce the use of harmful pesticides and minimize the impact on the environment.
- Choose native plants: Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them more resistant to pests and diseases. They also provide habitats for native wildlife and help maintain biodiversity.
- Use water-efficient irrigation systems: Water-efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation, can help conserve water and reduce the risk of overwatering, which can lead to the development of plant diseases.
- Reduce carbon emissions: Carbon emissions contribute to climate change, which can have adverse effects on plant health. These emissions can be reduced by conserving energy, using public transportation or carpooling, and promoting renewable energy sources.
- Support sustainable agriculture: When purchasing food, choose products from sustainable agriculture practices as these practices promote soil health, reduce the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, and support the local economy.
- Report pest sightings to the Plant Protection authorities: Early detection and management helps to reduce the negative impacts that plant pests can have through timely and appropriate intervention. [Plant Pest Report Hotline: +1(268)462-PEST]
SMALL CHANGES CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE, AND EVERY ACTION COUNTS IN PROMOTING A HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE ECOSYSTEM!!
Antigua & Barbuda participated in WOAH Meeting held in Mexico
Dr. Chere Kellman, veterinarian attached to the Veterinary and Livestock Division of the Ministry of Agriculture attended two workshops in Mexico. The first took place from 17th to 19th April and was pertaining to a training for the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) delegates and National Focal Points for the Wildlife Sixth Cycle – Regional Workshop for the Americas Region. This was followed by a second meeting of the Global Framework for the progressive control on Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) from 19th to 21st April.
- The WOAH meeting included
- Brief History of the WOAH National Focal Point Programme and Terms of Reference of National Focal Points for Wildlife;
- Recent WOAH activities related to One Health and biodiversity, with an emphasis on wildlife health, around the globe and in the Americas – including the last UN COP 15, Montreal, Canada;
- Wildlife Health Activities at WOAH;
- Wildlife Working Group Activities at WOAH: Introduction, current and Future Activities;
- Avian Influenza and Wildlife: Risk Management for People working with wild animals;
- Wildlife Working Group Activities at WOAH: Introduction, current and Future Activities Avian Influenza and Wildlife: Risk Management for People working with wild animals;
- General principles of disease management and control in wildlife;
- Drivers of wildlife disease and its management based on drivers.
Draft proposal of the regional key activities in Wildlife
- The GF-TADs meeting aimed to (according to the organizers)
- Provide information on existing global and regional platforms, programs, and action plans
- Present the global and regional situation of Avian Influenza
- Discuss national strategies and management options applied in the Americas, focusing on surveillance, prevention, emergency preparedness and response.
- Discuss the safe trade of poultry, wild birds, and their products through the implementation of the WOAH standards.
- Identify main topics and priorities for the development of a regional framework for the prevention and control of disease in the Americas.
Approach and expected outputs.
A short briefing on the epidemiological situation shall be presented, focusing on findings in different relevant wildlife animal species. In addition, ongoing initiatives at the global and regional levels to promote national activities integration in different frameworks will be presented, as well as updated information on laboratory capacities, the impact of the disease on trade, and vaccinations.
Dr. Kellman expressed that both meetings were very important and was grateful that Antigua and Barbuda was allowed to attend and participate. Other countries from this region that were present were Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, St. Lucia, Santa Domingo, St. Vincent and Trinidad.
At the WOAH meeting, she realized that each country had their own dilemma pertaining to wildlife and livestock and the solution applicable to one would not suffice for the other. However, solutions used to mitigate these situations and to ascertain the desired results were shared. Additionally, revealed was very interesting and concerning facts pertaining to the “Vampire Bats”. “We learned from our Cuban counterpart that there is evidence that suggests vampire bats migrate to other islands in the archipelago. This is a serious concern because these mammals are carriers of the vector that causes “Rabies” and other diseases”, Dr. Kellman said. Some felt that vaccination of the mammals would be unavoidable others queried the possibility of the process for this to be achieved.
With regards to the second meeting which focused mainly on “Avian Flu”, It was felt that more monitoring on migratory birds should be implemented and some feared that the Caribbean was at more risk. “Migratory birds can expose our local and domesticated birds to this and other diseases therefore, we need to engage in more surveillance and maintain a proper of our database of our avian friends”, stated Dr. Kellman. She felt that these meetings were very timely and informative.
DON’T PACK A PEST INITIATIVE
The “Don’t Pack a Pest” programme is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the California Department of Food and Agriculture, as well as state, federal and foreign governments, and organizations. The programmes’ goal is to educate travelers about the risks associated with bringing undeclared agricultural items into the U.S. and neighboring Caribbean countries. The Caribbean Plant Health Directors (CPHD) Forum has partnered in the initiative and the programme has already been rolled out in several Caribbean countries. Over 680 signs have been installed in 50 Florida and Caribbean ports of entry since the program began.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda agreed to the launch of the program in 2020 but the implementation was stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative has been re-activated and is to be completed in 2023.
Placement of the signs at ports of entry frequented by the travelling public in both Antigua and Barbuda will help to safeguard the nation’s agriculture and natural resources. Travelers will be educated about the risks associated with carrying certain types of food, plants, animals, or other agricultural items in their baggage and will be encouraged to declare agricultural items and not to pack pests or items that can carry them.
During the first week of May, the Director of the USDA’s-Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative (GCSI), Mr. Dennis Martin, alongside the Ministry of Agriculture’s Plant Protection Division, Veterinary and Livestock Division, and Communications Office held several meetings and visited the air and seaports with a view to determine suitable placements for the signage. The Barbuda Council is to provide the necessary information for the Codrington Airport as well as River Dock. Ports visited in Antigua included:
- John’s Harbour
- English Harbour
- Nelsons Dockyard & Falmouth Harbour
- Jolly Harbour Marina
- North Sound Marina
- Nevis Street Pier & Festivals Area, and
- V C Bird International Airport.
Signage, inclusive of barcodes directing interested persons to the “Don’t Pack a Pest” website for additional information, will be portrayed in English and other foreign languages where applicable.
In general, the “Don’t Pack a Pest” program was implemented to educate individuals on how to help keep harmful pests away. A major pest or disease outbreak could mean higher grocery bills, shortages of certain foods, and devastating losses for our farmers. The program is expected to be launched in about three months’ time.
Help us keep Antigua and Barbuda’s agriculture healthy by following the guidelines provided on what you may want to bring into the country.
Highlighting our Farmers
Farmers across the island are greatly appreciated and we thank them for their endurance as well as their very contribution to the food security in Antigua and Barbuda. Mr. Kenford Jarvis is a licensed farmer and has been farming for 35 years now (almost all his life), he got into the profession of farming through his father when he was a young boy. After the passing of his father when he was just 25 years of age, he decided that farming was what he would pursue for the rest of his life therefore, he invested more into the farm and expanded the business.
Receiving support from his community and his love for farming kept him going daily. “I’m mostly satisfied with the accomplishments I’ve made over the years.” Mr. Jarvis said. Additionally, he mentioned that many individuals had turned against him, but his mother told him to never give up.
Like other farmers, Mr. Jarvis expressed that his main challenge was the insufficient amount of water that is needed. He further explained that his crop production has decreased by 50% within these past several years, despite this he is extremely appreciative of the assistance and guidance that he has received from the Extension Officer, Mr. Joel Matthew who is the district officer of the South-Central District and regulatory officer, Mr. Mario Beazer who guided him in terms of producing under the extreme weather conditions.
Mr. Jarvis explained that besides water issues praedial larceny (theft of agricultural produce) was his other plight. Praedial larceny is something the ministry has embarked on by setting up a committee to assist in finding ways to help alleviate the problem.
We all know that produce should be bought locally as opposed to purchasing imported goods because we aren’t aware of what chemicals are being used on said goods. In return, consumers are able to enjoy produce that is fresh and nutritious. By keeping the produce pesticide-free it is not only beneficial to the consumer but also to the environment. Mr. Jarvis is filled with gratitude for the support that his business has been receiving from the public. He expressed that once the lack of water has been resolved the future of farming can become remarkably successful. He is also hoping for the water issue to improve so that he can recommence mass production of his crops, and hopefully in the near future resume sowing onions again.
As a licensed farmer Mr. Jarvis will be a recipient of the water deduction initiative between the Ministry and APUA that’s being launched amongst farmers where they will receive 25% off their water bills. Mr. Jarvis is also hoping to get his pond fixed with the aim of benefiting other farmers in the area along with himself.
Mr. Jarvis produces tomatoes, watermelons, and sweet peppers and the Ministry of Agriculture commends him for the work he continues to do especially given the challenges he occurs during his day-to-day operations.