BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – WITH a number of countries in the Caribbean signalling their intention to embrace Hydroponics in the cultivation of agriculture products on a large scale, farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis are not being receptive to this soilless growth of plants.
According to Dr. Leighton Narine, a lecturer at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), they started experimenting with Hydroponics at that learning institution in 2008, and some six years later it was included in the Curriculum.
He also stated that it subsequently became known as the Hydroponics Project and he was designated Project Manager and that together with one Stuart La Place, an expert in that field, they began pushing the project locally.
In providing SKNVibes an update on the current status of the project, Dr. Narine explained that he has not seen a high-level replication by farmers in the Federation as compared with those in the other islands who have embraced it.
“What we do know is that schools throughout St. Kitts and Nevis are interested in the project. Some work has started in terms of planning...and in some cases they have started to build in Nevis, perhaps more than in St. Kitts.”
The CFBC lecturer pointed out that more attention is being given to Hydroponics in other countries around the region, including Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
This, he noted, is due largely to the culture of those countries that focuses attention on farming.
“It is difficult to point to one factor why people are not receptive, but I think a major factor is that these countries seem to have a culture of agriculture. They are more advanced in the area of agriculture and their history shows that they are stronger in their food production. In Guyana, for example, they have an abundance of food and the young people are very interested in the technology because of the kind of work involved and the technology attracts more young people.”
According to Dr. Narine, a further push would be made to have more of the schools in St. Kitts and Nevis involved in the project.
He would however like to see more farmers who are into mainstream crops get on board along with the Ministry of Agriculture.
“They have not seemed to embrace Hydroponics, because readily, as we have seen in Dominica, their Ministry and Department of Agriculture are asking if they can form a partnership and I said we would discuss that in the future when I come back. Similarly, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad have signalled their intentions.”
He opined that if they work along with the Ministry of Education, there could be a vast expansion of the Hydroponics initiative.
Speaking to the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Narine noted that they would have to be the agents that are closely related with the Federation’s farmers and would need to have dual education for themselves and the farmers, so that the project would boost the local sector.
The Hydroponic initiative is an expensive venture which needs support from all involved, including private sector entities. And Dr. Narine believes that a partnership could be fostered, especially by those who utilize farm produce.
Hydroponics is the soilless growth of plants. In other words, it is the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrients solutions rather than in soil.