The Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday March 2 2021, commissioned a new tractor and an aquaponics system as part of efforts to boost food production and encourage the use of organic farming technology.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the Minister, Honourable Crenston Buffonge said it is important for us on Montserrat to have and consume more locally produced foods and reduce our reliance on imports. He noted that COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the need for greater food security, and these initiatives are a big step in the right direction.
The new tractor has the ability to access and maneuver on remote and small farm plots. Director of Agriculture, Melissa O’garro said the Ministry has been trying to procure a new and more suitable tractor for the sloping terrain on which many of the farmers operate. She said the new tractor would greatly assist the farmers as it is better able to maneuver and bank on the farm plots.
The Ministry also commissioned an aquaponics facility in Brades. The site has been initially established as a demonstration site to encourage this farming technology to be adopted by farmers.
The facility is able to produce healthy, chemical free plants such as lettuce, and other above ground crops to include cabbages, kale, bok choy, among others.
The aquaponics project was spearheaded by Extension Officer, Lorenzo Greaves. He explained that aquaponics is a system of growing plants in water without soil, which produces better quality and safer food. Additionally, he noted that there is a smaller production footprint and a shortened turnover time between crop cycles. The system also makes it possible to control environmental impacts and reduce the impact of pests and disease.
The tractor was purchased under the Small Capital Asset Fund SCAF, with funds provided by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.