The August 9 meeting of the South Abaco Farmers Association was held on the patio at Central Abaco Primary School. Only a handful of members attended the meeting, among them a group from the Horticultural Society, but it was non-the-less informative.
Chairman Leslie Thompson invited the members of the Horticultural Society to introduce themselves and state the reason for their presence. Barbara Foreman explained the purpose of the Society and said that it was the group’s intention to give back to the community by trying to organize the development of a Botanical Garden. The idea was well received by all present and the Horticultural Society members were given some advice on how to find a location as well as further help.
The guest speaker was Pastor Etienne who made recommendations on what to grow in order to make money from farming. He told people to find and target two or three niche crops such as sweet potatoes, onions or bananas. He instructed them on which type would be the best for Abaco and gave them tips on how to safely get rid of potential insect attacks.
For example, to control sweet potato weevils he suggested making a trap with oil that will attract the males and destroy them. No more male weevils, no more weevils he explained. Bananas are often the target of nematodes. To get rid of them without pesticides one trick is to dip the banana corms in boiling water for 30 seconds, no more. He also offered to show interested parties how to multiply bananas suckers.
He talked about which species of onions to plant. A short day species is recommended for our island. In some cases a mid-day type will do, but not always, he warned. The seeds for these onions have become hard to find as Monsanto has a lock on the market. But he parted with the name of a few growers from whom he buys his supply of seeds.
He offered to give young or new farmers information on farming, from seedlings to processing, should they need it. Before ending his presentation, Pastor Etienne reminded the audience about the popularity of coconut. There is a demand for young coconut trees, so start growing some, he advised.
It was getting too dark for Treasurer Jacqueline Estevez to give her report, so the other matters on the agenda were deferred until the next meeting.
The August meeting followed the July meeting, which, according to several members was the best one so far. Three presenters, Pat Smith, Nick Miaoulis and Kareem Knowles, talked about land preparation. Preparation topics included what is needed in the soil, good and bad insects and plants that do well together. There was a display of potted plants with beautiful foliage.
Mr. Kareem son displayed corn used for fuel. There was also a step by step demonstration of the advantages of having green houses.
The presenters recommended that the farmers have weekly meetings instead of monthly to stay ahead of what everybody in the industry is doing. Ms. Estevez thought it was very motivating for the farmers.