ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force is striving to become more self-sufficient and, if successful, could, starting next year, save government approximately $700,000.
Major Randolph Best told OBSERVER media the force will soon embark on extensive farming, with the hope of producing enough to feed the 200-plus officers and other government institutions.
“We are seeking to embark on an agriculture programme where we can feed ourselves and whatever excess we have, we look towards supporting the other government institutions like Fiennes Institute and Clarevue,” Major Best said.
The force has already had some practice at Camp Blizzard, having planted and recently reaped a number of vegetables, though in small quantities.
“We actually have (a farm) here at Camp Blizzard which we have started and we’ve already reaped sweet peppers, Chinese cabbage, thyme, celery and other things, and we do it ourselves,” Major Best said.
At the same time, he noted major farming would take place at the Crabbs base and would continue on a smaller scale at Camp Blizzard.
He said the heavy duty equipment, including trucks and excavators, which the People’s Republic of China handed over to the defence force yesterday, would help with preparation of farming areas.
According to Commander Sir Trevor Thomas, the food bill last year was $677,000, while this year it is estimated to be $710,000.
Sir Trevor said the force is also collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture to begin livestock farming.
“They’ve been putting together a plan and we will start working towards it slowly, but it will happen. The livestock farm would be at Crabbs as well, so we wouldn’t only be providing our own vegetables, but meats too,” the commander indicated.