Soil Health Hits Rock Bottom!
Barbados' soil health seems to have hit an all-time low on all counts, which has led to an unprecedented address in the islands' House of Assembly. The hot topic on the table is soil health and biodiversity. Farmers are now reaping from decades use of toxic synthetic agrochemicals, overdependence on synthetic fertilisers and intensive tillage-based production. All inflamed by the worsening effects of climate change. The battle between conventional vs. organic agriculture has been going on for the better part of a half-century. Organics evolved over the years to a level far beyond sustainability in regenerative organic agriculture, which gives precedence to the biological component responsible for soil health. This battle has reached a shifting tide as the former superpower of conventional agriculture, has come to bear very little in the long run when it comes to putting food on the table, let alone nutrient-rich food.
While contributing to the debate in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, November 15th 2022, on a resolution to accept the Barbados National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2020. Barbados' Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security Indar Weir revealed that farmers are reaping less because the soil is becoming less fertile. He spoke about the harsh realities that farmers are struggling with as he Weir said farmers have reported that they plant fewer crops because they have "to grow with intensity to get greater yields" while spending more on costly chemical fertilisers. "This country must now face the hardcore reality that confronts us with climate change and if we do not strike a balance with what climate change is about to do with us as a people, with our plants and with our animals, we can speak until the cows come home, the one-one blow will certainly kill the old cow. "And we have to formulate all the policies that are to be built around using bio-inputs in agriculture to save the ecosystem, help rebuild the biodiversity and, Mr Speaker, at the same time give us clean food, give us greater yields, give us greater economic activity, save people from having to go to the hospital with NCDs [non-communicable diseases] because of what they ingested, and protect our children by making sure that what we are feeding them isn't laden with chemicals that are harmful to the body – because we have seen with our own eyes that they are killing the insects, they are killing the plants; therefore, it follows with common sense that they would kill us," the Agriculture Minister said.
We can agree this negative ripple effect of unsustainable conventional agricultural practices has reached the purest foundations of our lives. Critical building blocks that Red Diamond Compost stands to protect. Implementing ancient wisdom with modern technologies to a system that works with our natural environment to achieve optimal results. To bring new life and vitality to our soils, foods and lives, so that together, we can reach our fullest potential. The type of farming methods a farmer chooses depends heavily upon many things, including their natural environment, economic opportunities and past successes and failures in farming.
This is why we at Red Diamond are eager and ready to change the landscape and bridge the gap, making organic and biological solutions more available than ever. This is the only way we will achieve our mission of ensuring everyone has access to clean nutrient-rich food in abundance. Explaining that bio-based solutions have been designed to strengthen the sector and help farmers reap greater yields, given that fertilisers and chemicals will stop being impactful over time, Minister Weir stressed that factories that produce these inputs must be encouraged.
Farming practices have to evolve in response to climate change, supply chain upheavals and a growing demand from consumers for healthy food grown sustainably. Our food security is dependent upon, enough food, grown using practices that do not sacrifice ecosystems or worsen climate change. So, what does that mean for the two main agricultural philosophies farmers use – organic versus conventional farming? Ultimately, consumers will drive the future demand for organic food products and there is plenty of room in the organic sector for growth. Our research, development and advocacy over the last 7 years have confidently positioned us to aid and accelerate the transition to a profitable regenerative agricultural sector for Barbados and the region. It is high time our agrochemical industry became a circular economy. Our only path is up, let us take it all the way.
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