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GARD Centre and Sandals work towards food security

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One of the country’s long-running community-based projects, the Gilbert
Agricultural and Rural Development Centre (GARD) is combining efforts with the
Sandals Foundation to undertake a project designed to help boost the country’s
food security.
A press release stated that through this project food production and supply-chain
opportunities have been strengthened in the community of Pares following the
launch of a dynamic food security project made possible through the continued
partnership of the GARD Centre and the Sandals Foundation.
The release noted that recently Sandals Foundation ambassadors, led by General
Manager at Sandals Grande Antigua, Matthew Cornall, joined residents, students,
and members of the Pares Community Group at the entrance of Pares Village, for
the launch of the holistic farming and capacity building project.
Aimed at ensuring the sustainable presence of wholesome foods, the project will
build the self-reliance of the community organisation, in a number of areas.
“Food security within our communities has become even more evident since the
outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said June Jackson, Executive Director at
GARD Centre.
“A number of communities have become increasingly more interested in producing
food in their backyard gardens, with special emphasis on climate-friendly
agriculture. This project will see targeted training and technical assistance provided
to increase farmer production, encourage long-term planning to address food and
agricultural problems, and promote local food purchases through roadside stalls,
community restaurants, and small supermarkets.”
Cornall commended the efforts of the community and GARD to bring the
programme to life, noting the importance of reliable food production for families.
“Many of our islands' import-dependent economies are susceptible to international
food supply-chain challenges, and climate change has had an even further negative

impact on traditional farming practices – affecting the livelihoods of many
“This project,” Cornall continued, “Takes a 360-degree look at food production,
building capacity in the use of climate smart technology, re-establishing school
gardens, promoting entrepreneurship; and building the capacity for value-added
products – all to create a resilient food supply system.”
In addition to the technical climate-smart farming skills that will enable some 15
farmers within the community, 10 backyard gardeners will be able to upgrade their
home gardens with better layout plans, add compost units, and diversify their
vegetable and herb selections.
The project, which holds the endorsement of the Ministry of Agriculture and the
Ministry of Social Transformation, will also develop the leadership and advocacy
skills of the community group to assess challenges that affect their food security
and effect change. Finally, to expand the variation of output produced, some 15
persons will be trained in agro-processing techniques with special emphasis on
blanching and freezing, and bottling.
Seventy (70)-year-old Pares community resident and local farmer Edmeade
Samuel who has been farming for over fifty years shared that he is very proud of
the benefits this project will have for the future of agriculture. “Our students at
both the primary and secondary school levels will be benefiting from the renewed
focus on entrepreneurship in farming. Our community is poised to see creativity
and innovation at its best, as our young people get engaged, learn, and grow.”
President of Pares Community Group Lorenzo Looby said, “I am excited about the
project and the impact it is going to have on the community. Our farmers and
students alike will be exposed to new and innovative farming techniques and food
production and preservation practices among other skills. We are thankful to the
Sandals Foundation for believing and investing in this project.”

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