ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A local farming group is responding favourably to a US $14,000 seedling programme funded by the Australian government.
The initiative, which is set to begin shortly, will result in the planting of 24,000 tomato seedlings, 32,000 cucumber seedlings, cabbage, lettuce, sweet peppers and watermelons utilising 20 acres of land throughout Antigua & Barbuda.
The project will be executed by Team Fresh Produce, a group of farmers with a wealth of experience.
The team’s vice president Neil Gomes said the group was able to secure the funding after written and verbal communication with the government of Australia.
The project, which will be conducted in two phases involving 14 farmers, is expected to be completed by June.
“It would allow for our farmers to be self-sustainable and to add to the GDP as well as add to the country on a whole,” Gomes said during an appearance on OBSERVER AM.
Gomes said the farmers will be monitored on the planting of selected crops, which he indicated are needed on the market.
“We looked at cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, sweet peppers, cabbages that we know the industry would take. What we are also doing is to allow individuals in the group to actually sow out these seeds, show them how, get them up and get them going so that they can get them into the ground,” Gomes explained.
“Our intention is to use the seedlings from the grant to sell to the market, have a revolving fund and use that to grow Team Fresh produce so that in the long run we would not be looking for grants.”
The vice president also added that his group will also be looking to forge a partnership with the Central Marketing Corporation (CMC), who has indicated interest in purchasing the produce.