Benefactors Charles and Vanessa Edghill, owners of Dukes Plantation in St. Thomas, as they engaged Professor Eudine Barriteau (centre), Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus; Professor Leonard O’Garro (third from left), Director of the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship (CFSE) and visionary for the UWI-Dukes Project; Senator Maxine McClean (second from left), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul (left); and Ena Harvey,
Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) Representative for Barbados.
High hopes for Project
In a bid to become more entrepreneurial and much more self-reliant, the UWI Cave Hill Campus will be embarking on a multi-million dollar development project at Dukes, St. Thomas, which is predicted to yield a high number of income generating activities.
During the launch of the project, entitled “The UWI-Dukes Agri-business Development Park”, in the main conference room of the Campus yesterday, Professor Eudine Barriteau, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, acknowledged that the university will now be making full use of the gift of twenty-eight and a half acres of land presented in 2012 by gracious benefactors Charles and Vanessa Edghill, owners of Dukes Plantation in St. Thomas.
Revealing that Town and Country Planning approval has been secured, she pointed out that this now paves the way for the implementation phase of the two-year project, which will officially get going around the second quarter of next year. “Ladies and gentlemen, what you see before you is a master plan for a multi-million-dollar development project at Dukes, St. Thomas. This will create an environmentally-friendly, state-of-the-art science/agricultural park, in the heartland of rural Barbados,” Professor Barriteau said as she presented the project.
“The UWI Cave Hill Campus, which is already a major, multifaceted contributor to the economic life of this country, is about to make its economic presence felt in an even more significant way. This mega-community of agri-business activity will not only offer a diverse range of employment opportunities, but will position Barbados to become a regional hub for entrepreneurial development, educational training and cutting-edge agri-business research, in a 21st century, expansive, multi-faceted complex,” she observed.
“When you consider that the campus site at Cave Hill occupies just over 40 acres and this is almost 30 acres, you gain a sense of the scale of activity which is in store,” she further commented.
In terms of how the project will be financed, Barriteau noted that an estimated US$34 million has been obtained by the Government of Barbados, via its bilateral aid programme with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Whilst the Chinese will have a major hand in the construction phase, the UWI has made it clear that there will be opportunities for local players to also get some employment.
Professor Leonard O’Garro, an outstanding internationally recognised Caribbean scientist, has been credited as the intellectual visionary behind the Dukes Project, which is just one of several which the UWI Cave Hill Campus has initiated under its Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship (CFSE).
Whilst having his say on the project, Professor O’Garro revealed that a significant portion of the land will be set aside for farming. The Park will also accommodate agro-processing and meat curing capabilities. It will also feature a chocolate manufacturing and training facility, cotton processing facilities, a food standards laboratory, a sewerage treatment plant, a day-care facility, some residential accommodation and recreational spaces. The Park will also consist of a 500-seat conference facility, ATM facilities, retail shops and restaurants. (RSM)