The GARD Center continues to thank the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) for its support in the training of Women in Climate Smart Agricultural technologies with a focus on hydroponics and the blanching and freezing of vegetables in preparation for the dry season and the shortage of food.
This project has become increasingly more vital and timely as the year 2021 continued to unfold, with the delay in the supply chain universally. Things worsened for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the turn of the year 2022 with the rumours of war, between Russia and Ukraine. It seemed as though the world’s focus almost forgot about the COVID-19 pandemic which had thrown most of the world in a tailspin from early 2020, (and continues) with lockdowns and supply interruptions.
Although by the first quarter of 2022, government restrictions have slowly been lifted in Antigua and Barbuda, with the business sector starting to re-open, some women have still not been able to return to full time employment in the service industry due to the reduction of occupancy in many hotels and the cruise ship sector mainly operating at 50%. The CFLI has been instrumental as the backbone of developing backyard garden plots and a demonstration hydroponic unit for trainees to get hands-on practice during this aspect of the training. A few crops have been pre-planted for the Blanching and Freezing component of the course, etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues with various strains circulating; and health protocols put in place continue to change constantly, the actual start of the training component had to be deferred on several occasions. The training course has started. Over the 25 women who showed interest in training in 2021, when the protocols ‘settled’ and training was ready to begin in January 2022, the Center had to delay the start date due to some women having restarted work during the day and would then have prefered evening sessions. The recruitment drive continued.