Despite being harshly criticized for increasing the water rate to farmers, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir said the move was mandatory if Government was to proceed financing the sector.
He said Government was committed to improving the agricultural sector and had earmarked several areas for increased production.
From May this yr Government increased water rates for farmers from .60 cents per cubic metre to $1.80 per cubic metre.
“I have no idea for the lifetime of me how you’ll be able to tell me that a fella is paying $4.66 for water, as high as $7.66 but one other fella is paying 60 cents and that’s okay by your conscience. I ask myself where is the conscience of anyone who expects us to proceed to see the Government put in all of the support for farming in Barbados but yet still it’s being conveyed in a fashion like if nothing is being done,” Weir insisted.
The minister said several areas had seen increased land production including 92.5 acres at Mount Poyer, 27 acres at Fairy Valley in Christ Church and 18 acres at Graeme Hall. He revealed there was a complete of 342 additional acres of land in production providing crops and allowing for 250 additional farmers to make a living.
“I need to say to you that there may be tremendous work going across Barbados at once under the BAMC and the BADMC to ensure that us to have the option to get production up…
“We even have three different Rastafarian tribes also at Bath planting sweet potatoes and yams and likewise what we call money crops, things like lettuce and tomatoes,” Weir said.
“The expansion of the FEED programme has led us to have the option to include into the programme lands that were under the BAMC so we are going to now be moving to Vineyard and the north of the island to take up lands that were under the BAMC to ensure that us to have the option to further advance the FEED programme.”
The minister said while water had proven to be the most important problem for farmers, Government had invested in water at River and Lears and had also purchased 105 1 200-gallon water tanks to spice up the farmers’ supply.
He said Government had spent over $20 million to offer water to farmers who were having trouble accessing it for his or her crops.