A year ago, if you’d asked me about a greenhouse, my mind would have probably meandered down a long, dark and twisted road before finally arriving at a dead end where I would find a facility, more than likely in the color green where people conducted experiments on greenhouse gases.
Okay, so maybe not, but the reality is, a mere twelve months ago I was not 100% sure of what is a greenhouse, what they can be used for and the great green benefits they can provide.
Sure, by this declaration it is safe to presume that I am by no means an expert in greenhouse technology, let alone an agricultural guru. So why am I writing this article to gain the opportunity to be a part of the spectacular showcase in Johannesburg you may ask?
Well, for a couple reasons. Firstly, I’m a lot more proficient in writing than I am in agriculture and secondly, I am an enterprising entrepreneur seeking to address many of the agricultural problems plaguing Barbados and the Caribbean region.
My name is Kareem Payne, a twenty-eight year old Trinidadian national, residing in Barbados. I have worked in a variety of sectors throughout the Caribbean and in the United States of America, before obtaining the opportunity to work for the Ministry of Agriculture in Barbados.
My experience at the Ministry of Agriculture thus far has been truly amazing. After all, I now know of a greenhouse and its capabilities. By working in agriculture, I have witnessed firsthand the immense potential and power of agriculture as a science, and as a mechanism and vehicle to rid many small-island developing states of many of the obstacles which impede their progress.
In the Caribbean, many governments focus on tourism and manufacturing while the agricultural sector continues to flounder and descend further into an abyss. Moreover, food security, unemployment – especially among youth – climate change, obesity and non-communicable diseases continue to be major challenges throughout the Caribbean region.
You do not need to be a brain surgeon to illustrate the role agriculture can play in curtailing some of these issues. Agriculture is a necessary and vital cog in the bid to create sustainable states, and we must embrace it now.
My mission is simple, and it is geared towards reducing the local food import bill, reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases which can be attributed to unhealthy diets and by turning trash into cash.
One of the components of my project will also involve heightening the level of awareness among young people about the myriad opportunities in agriculture. As a Goodwill Ambassador of Peace, I will also do my utmost to ensure that a portion of my profits will go towards the development of budding agri-preneurs and agricultural community projects.
My project therefore consists of several phases which I will now describe.
Phase 1 – Trash to Cash
As a health conscious individual I often patronize shops and businesses that sell all natural smoothies and juices. I noticed however that all of the seeds, skins and unwanted parts of the fruits and vegetables are disposed of in garbage bins – and this is where I intend to step in.
I will gladly accept organic waste for the purposes of making compost and fertilizers for sale and also for phase 2 of my project. I intend to utilize organic practices throughout my project to complement the notion of healthier living and the reduction of particular non-communicable diseases.
Phase 2 – Operation Greenhouse
This phase of my project will focus on greenhouse production of predominantly atypical Caribbean crops. Many burgeoning farmers focus on traditional crops/vegetables that typically grow in 4-6 weeks, such lettuce. However, I intend to remove the box and focus on non-traditional crops and crops that flourish in temperate climates such as berries and kale. Yup… kale.
The beauty of greenhouses in my estimation lies in the ability to create microclimates. With the use of renewable energy, research and of course, someone who knows what he/she is doing, one is able to change the temperature in a greenhouse in a jiffy to suit the preference of the crop.
Where possible I will utilize compost and fertilizers from phase 1, but of course this will be dependent on the soil and nutrient requirements. The produce from my greenhouses will be sold to anyone interested in buying high-quality crops – which is everyone! – and some of it will also be used for phase 3 of my project. Yes… there is a phase 3.
Phase 3 however, is more likely to be established after phases 1 and 2 gets going and without getting into an in depth elaboration, phase 3 will involve the establishment of a health café/restaurant which will utilize produce from phase 2. Fun times definitely lie ahead.
I am highly motivated by the opportunity to make a difference. As I indicated above, embedded in my project is the concept of raising awareness of the possibilities in agriculture and the development of agri-preneurs and agricultural community projects.
My project is anticipated to make my country better, one community at a time. I’d therefore like to think of my project as a win-win-win: I win by creating profits, I contribute to the development of my community and by extension my country and I also get great satisfaction by positively influencing and impacting the lives of the youth of my country.
To achieve my objectives, I intend to focus on a simple, but tried and tested philosophy: hard work. If successful, the grant provided will be mainly used to assist with the procurement of raw materials and capital. However, I will continue to explore all options and avenues, including crowdfunding, grants, fund-raising projects and family members to make my project a reality and a success.
I know wholeheartedly, that hard work, persistence and a little bit of luck is all that is necessary for this project to succeed. I have already done some research on greenhouses, the type of crops I will like to grow and the possibility of utilizing local and recyclable materials to construct the greenhouses. I also made contact with some organizations to assist with phase 1 of my project.
After two years of operation, I expect to have a minimum of 3 greenhouses, a minimum of 3 employees, and a profitable business which has contributed to the development of the community/communities in which it serves through the betterment of its people.
I will utilize the US$5000 grant as follows:
Research – USD $500
Procurement of Greenhouse Equipment – USD $2500
Labor and Professional Services – USD $1000
Seeds and other raw materials – USD $500
Procurement of other equipment and other miscellaneous costs – USD $500
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you in Johannesburg!!!!
Blogpost and picture submitted by Kareem Payne (Barbados) – kareempayne11[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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