Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, and the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) were in Eleuthera on Wednesday, February 8th, 2023 to introduce and launch a “Digital Villages Initiative”, with the stated purpose of digitizing food and agriculture chains, involving farmers, fisherfolk, as well as agro-processors and crafters.
The group included, Dr. Crispin Moreira, FAO Country Representative; Kentisha Ward, Project Coordinator for the Digital Villages Initiative; Jeri Kelly-Russell, Ministry of Agriculture Policy and Program Officer and FAO National Correspondent, as well as Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Julia Braynen.
Presenter during the midday introductory meeting hosted at Worker’s House in Governor’s Harbour on that Wednesday, Ms. Kentisha Ward with the FAO, discussed what digital agricultural tools were, how emerging digital technologies are being used to improve small-scale farmers’ access to resources and markets, how digital tools could improve the efficiency of farming operations and increase productivity, and how digital agriculture could help to build resilient communities.
The pilot program in Eleuthera, with a budget of $200,000, was described as a catalytic project, by presenter Jeri Kelly, with the Ministry of Agriculture. Further meetings and feedback from farmers, fisherfolk and crafters would hone the focus on developing at least one digital innovation on the island by the end of 2023, she shared, with the expectation that this initial project would spinoff into further innovations and advances in the local industries.
“The purpose of today’s meeting was to reach out to the Eleuthera community – farmers, fisherfolk and crafters – to inform them of the upcoming Digital Villages Initiative – which involves encompassing technology into the farming and production process,” said Ms. Ward. “So, for example – farmers who want to scale up their production, technology is available to increase the speed of production – for fishermen to complete record keeping and to ensure that they are making the right amount of revenue for the right amount of catch, and so on.”
She continued, “Going forward, we would like to collaborate with the farmers to find out exactly what their challenges are… let us know what the issues are when we do our general assessment, so, we could know what solutions can be had here in Eleuthera.”
Interested persons can reach out for more information by emailing email@example.com. “As we continue to grow with the project, we are going to send out more information. This project is comprised of multiple trainings, capacity building seminars and workshops. We want to make sure that every bit of information about this initiative is disemminated to the entire Eleuthera community,” shared Ms. Ward.
She added, “We had a general registration process here at the launch, but also as we begin the implementation of the project, we will try to reach out to every farmer here in Eleuthera, via the list that we have obtained, and via walkaround and community assessments.”
With the timeline for the initiative set for the calendar year 2023, by December this year said Ms. Ward, “We would like by then to have a digital hub created, where farmers, fisherfolk and crafters would be able to log in, and access financial inclusion, access greater markets, and also access digital trainings.”