News Date: July 20 2016
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Esworth Reid, has called for the cooperation of all stakeholders in the agricultural industries to come together to see that the sector bears fruit.
He made the point at the accountability seminar of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) yesterday.
Reid highlighted that while the Ministry he represents is constantly seeking to reposition the agricultural sector, the public sector cannot do it alone. Thus, he made mention of institutions such as IICA and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) that have shown great commitment by partnering with governmental entities in order to propel the work of agriculture across the region.
Moreover, Reid called on stakeholders to be more than mere onlookers in the process of development, but become actively involved by demonstrating similar commitment in every aspect to match that of IICA and CARDI.
He went on to say that they should adopt an international business attitude in their production, as agriculture is a major means of reducing the increasingly high food import bill.
For further development and sustainability, Reid explained that investment in research is crucial, especially since research is missing in Barbados at the micro and macro levels. Admitting, that the dearth in research might be due to financial constraints, Reid suggested that all stakeholders help to pay the cost because its benefits are far-reaching.
Noting that the law too had to be involved, Reid stated that praedial larceny is an ongoing struggle that farmers face. He said that the consequences of this should result in more than a “slap on the wrist” and that punishment should include incarceration.
By the same token, sectors such as the tourism industry also have to be involved, according to Reid. Acknowledging that the tourism industry is indirectly related to that of agriculture, Reid declared that in resisting the use of cheap imports and buying local, they can play a great role in reducing the food import bill. Furthermore, Reid explained that with the limited amount of foreign exchange left, importing goods will eventually become impossible in the long run.
To this end, Reid, while thanking all participating partners, assured that the Ministry is still cognisant of its obligations to the farming community and stated that they are still working to ensure that the sector is viable and sustainable.