A Series of Toxicology Workshops Aim to Educate Organic Farmers on Natural Agricultural Methods.

The Belle Vue Farmers Cooperative is gearing up to offer a series of intensive toxicology training workshops for farmers.

Anthony Herman, Project Coordinator at the Belle Vue Farmers Cooperative, said the three-part workshop is part of an organic farming project, that will sensitize farmers on the dangers of the overuse of agro-chemicals.

“The toxicology workshop was about creating awareness on the use of chemicals. The training is in three parts, and we’re using the sub-theme “Soil Health is Human Health” because for years we’ve been feeding the soil with chemical fertilizers. But it’s the plants that make use of those chemicals, and not the soil.”

Now, with increased awareness on the risks of chemical use, the farmers’ co-op is stressing the necessity of toxicology training.

“Belle Vue and the Global Environment Fund (GEF) is moving in the direction of providing soil health training. How do we protect, how do we preserve, how do we improve the quality of the soil? That will be done through training. A number of training workshops have been planned.”

One key workshop will discuss the benefits of natural alternatives as opposed to chemicals.

“We have a consultant who will work with us on alternative pest control. What we are doing is using a lot of local knowledge. In the old days, pests on plants were controlled by natural things in the environment. Today we are going back using those very natural remedies, to teach the farmers and the wider saint Lucian community.

“Take for example the guava leaf. In the old days if you had a stomach problem you could were given the young shoot to kill the bacteria. Today we can use this to protect the plant from bacteria. We have soursop, neem, garlic, onions, hot peppers. We have all of these, and what we are going to be doing is training the farmers on how to use this. And the training will be intensive and creative.”

The toxicology sessions will also be extended to select schools.