The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Dietary Security joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in celebrating World Food Day, October 16.
This 12 months’s theme, “Leave no One Behind: Higher production, higher nutrition, a greater environment and a greater life”, reinforces the importance of developing food systems that may withstand shocks equivalent to climatic events, pandemics and political unrest, in order that there’s minimal disruption to the provision of fresh, protected and nutritious foods to all residents, including essentially the most vulnerable.
As Barbados continues to grapple with the severe impact of climate change on crop and livestock yields, the worldwide supply deficits generated by the COVID-19 pandemic; and the results of the Russia/Ukraine war, with price hikes triggered by grain and oil shortages, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Dietary Security is set to ‘leave no-one behind’.
The Ministry is persevering in its efforts to combat the dry conditions precipitated by climate change. The recently-expanded Brown’s Pond at River Plantation, with a storage capability of 6 million gallons, is in operation and can service the 60 acres there; whilst the pump house at Lears which is 95% complete, will facilitate the distribution of water from the 21 million gallon reservoir to over 100 farmers and allotment gardeners to profit from that programme.
The Government can be looking for to alleviate challenges faced by farmers related to the rising costs of feed inputs. On the domestic level, my Ministry is currently involved in discussions with local animal feed producer, Pinnacle Feeds Ltd., about ways to make sure that price increases are either avoided, or kept at a minimum.
As a small country, Barbados is a price taker throughout the global marketplace. It’s subsequently now urgent, perhaps greater than ever, for local businesses to discover and pursue lower cost inputs, even when it means a movement away from traditional source markets. In lots of cases, my Government can assist with identifying cheaper source markets without compromising input quality.
The Ministry’s Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) Programme, executed by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) continues to draw interest, with some 351 participants registered within the last cohort in August 2022. Further, the Programme has seen increased crop-planting at Mt. Poyer, Wakefield Plantation and Bath Plantation. I’m particularly pleased that lands at Spencer’s Plantation are being brought back into production.
The recently-launched Community Agricultural Response and Empowerment (CARE) Project seeks to enhance the standard of lifetime of individuals living below the poverty line, by providing opportunities for communities to grow their very own food. The BADMC and the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd. (BAMC) will offer support with land clearing, cultivation and planting material.
Notwithstanding local efforts to spice up agricultural output, the Government of Barbados recognizes that alliances between countries are critical to the Caribbean becoming self-sufficient within the production of nutritious food. Each individual country doesn’t have the requisite natural resources, especially land and water, to provide all it needs. To this end, the Government eagerly embraced CARICOM’s 25×25 vision, which challenges Member States to scale back extra-regional agri-food imports by 25% by 2025.
Because the pronouncement of the 25×25 vision, Barbados signed Cooperation Agreements with two of its regional neighbours, Guyana and Suriname, in July 2022. The St. Barnabas Accord with Guyana encompasses several areas of agricultural cooperation including crop production, animal husbandry, fisheries and trade facilitation.
The Formation Agreement for the Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform with Suriname will facilitate partnerships in similar areas. Under each Agreements, the chance also exists for Barbadian farmers to travel to those countries to work agricultural lands provided by the respective Governments.
The Government acknowledges the proven fact that comprehensive agricultural policy also includes legislative and other supportive mechanisms. To this end, I’m proud to report that in August 2022, Parliament passed the brand new and improved Protection of Agricultural Products Act. This long awaited piece of laws will provide local farmers with the essential recourse to acts of praedial larceny against them, while at the identical time require them to take some measure of responsibility in averting such occurrences.
On this World Food Day, I extend sincere because of all farmers, institutional partners including FAO and employees of the Ministry for his or her commitment to advancing agriculture in Barbados. Despite the unprecedented, exogenous shocks which have caused setbacks, I’m satisfied that the implemented programmes, the adoption of resilient, sustainable agricultural practices, together with the tireless efforts of all interest groups will bear much fruit.
As Minister of Agriculture, Food and Dietary Security, I assure you that I remain resolutely committed to the duty given to me 4 years ago. May God bless all of you.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Dietary Security