Move to show ‘we care’ Flow send­ing tech team to coun­tries

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Focus - By SHERIA BRATH­WAITE

THE NA­TION PUB­LISH­ING CO. LIM­ITED and Star­com Net­work have part­nered with the Ro­tary Clubs of Bar­ba­dos to launch the We Care: One Caribbean, One Peo­ple Hur­ri­cane Re­lief ef­fort.

This char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tive is seek­ing to raise much-needed funds for re­gional ter­ri­to­ries, se­verely im­pacted by Hur­ri­cane Irma, one of the most pow­er­ful weather sys­tems ever recorded.

On Septem­ber 5, life for many liv­ing in the re­gion changed dras­ti­cally as Irma, a Cat­e­gory 5 hur­ri­cane, af­fected is­lands in the north­ern Caribbean, in­clud­ing An­guilla, Bar­buda, Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, St Martin/st Maarten and St Bart’s, US Vir­gin Is­lands, Haiti, St Kitts and Ne­vis, and Turks and Caicos. Many peo­ple have been left with­out ba­sic ev­ery­day needs – shel­ter, food, wa­ter and cloth­ing.

Un­der the theme We Care: One Caribbean, One Peo­ple, the joint hur­ri­cane re­lief ef­fort ap­peals to Bar­ba­di­ans to make fi­nan­cial do­na­tions in aid of re­build­ing the lives of those af­fected. Well known for its hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts and suc­cess­ful co­or­di­na­tion of re­lief drives, the Ro­tary Clubs of Bar­ba­dos will be dis­tribut­ing the fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions through their clubs in each of the af­fected is­lands.

Cash do­na­tions can be made to the Bank of Nova Sco­tia – Sco­tia­bank – Ac­count name: Na­tion Benev­o­lent Fund, Ac­count No. 40055-9019256, or CIBC First­caribbean In­ter­na­tional Bank Lim­ited - Ac­count name: Help – Star­com Net­work Inc., Ac­count No. 2645374. Cheques can be writ­ten to the ac­count names listed for each ac­count.

The We Care cam­paign will also seek to high­light other le­git­i­mate op­tions for do­nat­ing non-cash items. Those in­ter­ested in list­ing their re­lief ef­forts can send rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion to mar­ket­ing@ na­tion­news.com for in­clu­sion in the press ads.

On Satur­day, Septem­ber 16, the Star­com Net­work of sta­tions (VOB 92.9 FM, Life 97.5 FM, The Beat 104.1 FM and HOTT 95.3 FM) will be host­ing a ra­dio­thon in part­ner­ship with Na­tion Pub­lish­ing and the Ro­tary Clubs in Bar­ba­dos to re­ceive pledges and do­na­tions. This fundrais­ing drive takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more in­for­ma­tion and up­dates, in­ter­ested per­sons can check the so­cial chan­nels of Star­com Net­work and the Na­tion Pub­lish­ing on Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter. (PR)

A ST LUCY FARMER fears a lack of proper gov­ern­men­tal sup­port, lim­ited mar­ket ac­cess and prej­u­dice could crip­ple the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

Arthur Smith, who was strug­gling to get thou­sands of paw­paws sold last De­cem­ber, told Th­ese Fields And Hills th­ese prob­lems should not ex­ist, es­pe­cially in an en­vi­ron­ment where lo­cal farm­ers were grow­ing qual­ity pro­duce and the coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a large deficit.

Dur­ing a tour of his Bar­rows farm where he grows sweet pota­toes, ba­nanas, paw­paws, okras and wa­ter­mel­ons, he ex­plained how th­ese pit­falls were af­fect­ing busi­ness.

“In the 90s we had a thriv­ing ba­nana in­dus­try, but in re­cent years, a lot of the su­per­mar­kets pre­fer to pur­chase from im­porters,” he said. “So rather than the mar­ket get­ting big­ger for lo­cal ba­nanas, it re­ceded.”

Smith said the qual­ity of im­ported ba­nanas could not match the lo­cally grown ones.

“But things in Bar­ba­dos would con­tinue to be so as long as some­one prefers you. Pro­duce should have a stan­dard for sale, but peo­ple be­lieve cer­tain peo­ple should not be do­ing cer­tain things. So any­thing would do when peo­ple are bi­ased against you,” he claimed.

Smith said there was a grow­ing con­cern in the farm­ing com­mu­nity about gov­ern­men­tal agri­cul­ture pro­cure­ments. He said more and more farm­ers were ques­tion­ing from where Govern­ment re­ceived pro­duce to sup­ply its in­sti­tu­tions.

“We be­lieve a lot of im­ported pro­duce is used at the School Meals ser­vice,” he said. “If you check it out, you would see that Govern­ment pro­cure­ments from the coun­try are only about four per cent. So most of the food for Queen Elizabeth, the Geri­atric and Psy­chi­atric Hos­pi­tal, the prison and so on do not come from us.”

Smith said this showed a lack of con­fi­dence in the farm­ers.

“When have you seen or heard about a min­is­ter tour­ing a lo­cal farm [out­side of elec­tions] and en­cour­ag­ing the guys to pro­duce?” he queried.

“When it comes to pro­cure­ment, they like to use the ex­cuse, ‘Lo­cal farm­ers can’t sup­ply the de­mand and are not con­sis­tent’, but I ques­tion that. The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture has ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers that visit farms. Can they not tell their min­is­ter what farm­ers have on the farms?”

Smith wants to see greater mar­ket ac­cess.

“When farm­ers sell pro­duce to su­per­mar­kets and reach a cer­tain amount, they are stopped and told ‘no more’, but you have staff and na­tional in­sur­ance to pay. So di­rect ac­cess is a prob­lem and when you try to ma­noeu­vre around this prob­lem and sell to a mid­dle man, it is worse.

“Of­ten­times, the mid­dle man does not pay in cash and gives you cheques, but when you take them to the bank the cheques are bounced. I have sev­eral cheques dat­ing back about three years ago that are bounced and some I have thrown away. If there was some form of pro­tec­tion­ism for farm­ers in that su­per­mar­kets had to take a large quota of lo­cal food, this chal­lenge would be averted.”

Smith also said too much em­pha­sis was placed on the su­gar cane in­dus­try and more in­vest­ment should be made into al­ter­na­tive crops.

FROM LEFT, pres­i­dent of Ro­tary Club West Michael Mc­clean, past pres­i­dent Michael Stu­art, Ro­tar­ian Paul Ashby, Star­com (GP) Net­work gen­eral man­ager David El­lis and Star­com Net­work’s pro­gram­ming/con­tent co­or­di­na­tor Kris­to­jay Paul in dis­cus­sion.

ARTHUR SMITH’S work­ers har­vested around 20 bags of sweet pota­toes.

ARTHUR SMITH reap­ing some ba­nanas. (Pic­tures by Len­nox Devon­ish.)

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