Written by 7:49 pm Art

Weir highlights regional agricultural collaboration at UN summit

Barbados will not be on target to achieving the entire United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030 however the country is  partnering with its CARICOM neighbours to enhance the region’s food security and ensure its residents have access to nutritious food.

This assurance was delivered by Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir in his address to a 2022 United Nations Science Summit General Assembly activity held via Zoom on  Monday.

Weir spoke about CARICOM’s commitment to reducing the Caribbean’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025 and other initiatives Barbados was pursuing with neighbouring islands to spice up agriculture production.

He said the aim of those programmes was “to attain a sustainable development goal to be certain that that nobody is without food inside the region but, at the identical time, provide a chance for farmers inside this region to be enfranchised”.

“This goal we’re working towards with a variety of projects going down right across the CARICOM region. We have now signed the St Barnabas Accord where Barbados and Guayana could be supplying food to a food terminal that may be established in Barbados to give you the option to provide us a chance to do storage to capability that’s required for us to give you the option to feed the CARICOM region and export beyond the region,” he said

“We’re also contemporary processing machinery that may allow us to package, dice and prepare in industrial quantities and likewise for home domestic consumption from that food terminal that may be distributed to supermarkets, restaurants and the tourism sector.

“The food terminal in Barbados would also allow us to give you the option to take produce from Guyana and other CARICOM countries. We’d also leverage or close relationship with Roraima, which is north Brazil near the border at Guyana, for us to give you the option to import the entire carcasses we want to provide beef; establish a state-of-the-art abattoir in Barbados to give you the option to coach butchers in cutting specialty cuts for consumption, thus allowing us to give you the option to provide them inside the region, after which package and ship throughout CARICOM and beyond CARICOM – giving us a good probability at reducing the food import bill for meat, beef, pork and lamb.”

The 17 SDGs speak to the reduction of poverty, hunger, inequalities and improving health, education, gender equality and work conditions. Additionally they deal with innovation, infrastructure, climate change, peace and justice and responsible consumption and production.

The summit, which began September 13 and goes until September 30, features several activities during which global leaders, experts and ministerial officials discuss the sustainability of their country’s sectors and what progress they’re making towards attaining the SDGs.

The minister was speaking during a session on Food Self-Sufficiency for Resilient Development and Economic Growth in Small Island Developing States.

Weir added that thousands and thousands of dollars were spent regionally to import New Zealand lamb with Barbados alone spending $14 million annually on the meat.

He stated that Barbados and Guyana were collaborating on an initiative to extend the Barbados indigenos Blackbelly sheep population which included crossing with one other breed.

The minister said the carcasses could be packaged on the food terminal and sold inside the tourism sector in Barbados and other CARICOM countries. This is able to provide employment opportunities in butchery, farming and processing.

He added that Barbados was also trying to import corn and soya from Guyana and Brazil and establish a processing plant in Barbados to offer grain throughout the region at cheaper price than what’s now available on the international market.

He told the session that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine had placed numerous strain on regional livestock industries as the fee of primary inputs of feed had substantially increased.

He suggested that one other feed mill in Barbados would increase competitiveness which might drive feed prices down.

During his presentation, the agriculture minister also said the region was affected by climatic conditions corresponding to prolonged drought and flooding during excessive rainfall which each had a negative impact on crop production.

He also noted the importance of constructing agriculture more technologically-driven, embracing hydroponics and aquaculture systems. (SZB)

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