Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda as a category 5 hurricane causing catastrophic damage across the small island. In its aftermath CARDI joined forces with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs (MALFBA) and the IICA to conduct a preliminary assessment on the damage to the agriculture sector on 27 September 2017. Following this a short list was compiled prioritising the areas that needed to be immediately addressed for rehabilitating/rebuilding the sector. CARDI through the IICA/CARDI Technical Cooperation Agreement supported rehabilitative works and recovery efforts on the island.
Fencing material was supplied to small ruminant farmers whose animals were being threatened by feral dogs. Feeds were also distributed to pig and poultry farmers whose stock were destroyed by the bad weather. Planting material for the establishment of forage banks was provided as a means of improving the resilience of livestock farmers in Barbuda. Seeds and cuttings were supplied for forages such as mulberry (Morus spp.), guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus), green panic (Panicum maximum var. trichoglume), Chrysopogon aciculatus and elephant grass/napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum). These forages are suitable as they can be rapidly multiplied.
The bee industry was identified as a priority area for rebuilding, following the passage of hurricane Irma. CARDI and IICA have provided equipment to beekeepers and introduced bees to populate hives. Honey from Barbuda is noted for its distinctive taste and texture.
Protected structures were devastated across the island. In December 2017, a protected but portable aquaponics system which can easily be deconstructed and stored in the event of another hurricane was installed at the Sir Mc Chesney George Secondary School. The US based company Garden Pool assisted in the development of this system. Farmers and students benefitted from training on the use and installation of drip irrigation.
CARDI’s effort to rebuild the sector has been and will continue to be complementary to the vision articulated by the Honourable, Arthur Nibbs, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs at the 71st Special Ministerial Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Agriculture, held on 6th October, 2017 at the CARICOM Secretariat.
Minister Nibbs in his statement said a “Green island concept” will be adopted to rebuild the sector focusing on improving resilience and confronting the challenges of food insecurity.