The Division of Agriculture says the requests for backyard farm support have been so overwhelming that it has put registration on hold just to provide for the 2,774 local residents who have indicated interested in growing their own food.
The Ministry also plans to make the project a long-term one.
In April, the Ministry for the Blue and Green Economy and Agriculture launched its Coronavirus Food Security Programme to provide seeds and seedlings to large scale farmers to feed the island during this pandemic.
Shortly after that, the ministry included a backyard farming component to this programme to include families, primarily those considered vulnerable like single parent family and seniors.
The Division of Agriculture has said that the objective is to ensure that Dominicans are eating balanced and nutritious meals. This is why the seedlings packages are diverse with plants rich in vitamins, minerals, starch and protein.
Dr Almario Casimir is Coordinator of the Disaster Risk Management Project in the Division of Agriculture.
“We have not gone past the 2774 participants. One of the reasons for the temporary closure of the programme is that the requests were coming in and the demand on the agricultural stations for production of seedlings was tremendous,” he said adding that the Ministry has had to hire two private nurseries to increase propagation.
The Agriculture Ministry plans to establish the backyard gardening programme as a long-term intervention primarily for households considered vulnerable.
At least 10-15% of the total number of households in Dominica were targeted for this programme, based on data from the Ministry of Social Services.
Dr Casimir described this goal as “very ambitious.”
“The central objective is to target vulnerable groups and single-headed households. We will work in collaboration with the Ministry for Social Services to look at a sustained and more-in depth programme.”
The Division does emphasise that those who have registered so far will be supplied with seedlings as distribution and propagation is ongoing.