Officials gather in front of a Backyard Gardening Programme billboard. (Photo contributed)

Grenada launches Backyard Gardening Programme

Officials gather in front of a Backyard Gardening Programme billboard. (Photo contributed)

Grenada is the latest Caribbean Community member state to introduce a home-based farming programme in response to negative impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on agricultural sector both in that country and across the region.

Just last week Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands in Grenada launched its Backyard Gardening Programme, a component of the Government of Grenada’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Response plan, with a view to increasing agricultural output at both the commercial and household levels.

According to a release from the ministry, the programme aims to provide over five hundred vulnerable households to access to healthy and nutritious foods, as well as local institutions that have limited and or irregular access. As a result, the target beneficiaries will receive material support such as seeds and other planting material, small garden tools and labour support.

Minister for Agriculture and Lands Yolande Bain-Horsford speaking at the launch of the Backyard Gardening Programme last Thursday, September 10, 2020. (Photo contributed)

“The Ministry (of Agriculture and Lands) will also provide drums and tires to beneficiaries who lack sufficient land space around their house. We will provide technical assistance to ensure that the gardens are sustained,” portfolio minister Yolande Bain-Horsford outlined further at the launch of the programme, which took place at the Cadrona Home, one of the benefiting institutions.

Eat what you grow, grow what you eat

At present, the institution uses three-quarters of an acre of land on the property to cultivate a wide range of vegetable crops. With this in mind, chairman of the board of directors for the Cadrona Home, Margaret Wilson, underscored her support for the programme while expressing gratitude on behalf of the institution.

“This is something I believe in — eating what we grow and growing what we eat. Everything coming from the garden will filter into the kitchen; the chickens that we grow here, also, we will use in providing meals for residents. With the aid we were given under this programme, we will have little patches. We have sweet potatoes, some sorrel for Christmas, provision and all sorts of local produce that the home will benefit from,” Wilson explained.

The initiative also received praise from Parliamentary Representative for St Andrew North-West and Minister for Social Development and Housing Delma Thomas, who welcomed the contribution of food and nutrition security programme to her constituency.

Parliamentary Representative for St Andrew North-West and Minister for Social Development and Housing Delma Thomas (Photo contributed)

“We know that food security is a very essential part of our national development. This initiative is significant now more than ever, as it would allow us to grow what we eat and eat what we grow,” she said.

A double-edged sword

A joint programme of the Climate Smart and Rural Enterprise Programme (SAEP) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) — the latter providing financial support — the Backyard Gardening Programme aims to promote the importance of nutritious food for a healthy lifestyle while promoting food security and the adaption of climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices.

A gardener at the Cadrona Home tends to produce in the backyard garden.
(Photo contributed)

Also speaking at the launch, SAEP Manager Byron Campbell highlighted that the programme will address two challenges now facing small island developing states in the Caribbean.

“Climate change and COVID-19 seem to be the new norm. Projects like these are in line with SAEP’s mandate to reduce poverty, build resistance to climate change, and promote the best agricultural practices that are climate-smart and sustainable,” he said.

Byron Campbell, manager, Climate Smart and Rural Enterprise Programme
(Photo contributed)

The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands’ Backyard Gardening Programme has adopted embodies the theme of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 75th Anniversary celebration of World Food Day: Grow. Nourish. Sustain. Together.