Carmeta Fraser Smiles
The Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Cleviston Haynes will deliver the quarterly review of Barbados’ economy, next Wednesday, October 28 at 11:00 AM. In recent years Barbadians have become numb to the performance of the economy as we battle with a high debt to GDP, high unemployment, low national productivity to name three key performance indicators.
The pandemic expectedly served to stress the fragile state of the local economy and according to the mid year review of the economy by the Central Bank in June 2020 – see Central Bank of Barbados Review of the Economy January the economy saw a sharp decline that was the trend across sectors, EXCEPT, for Agriculture which saw a 3.7 percent expansion in non sugar agriculture.
For many years Barbados Underground has pleaded with government to allocate additional resources to the food sector. Barbados is surrounded by the sea with an abundance of fish, a mature poultry and pig industry and with declining sugar production available land space to plant root and other crops to grow the agriculture sector. It is heartening to see non sugar agriculture output trending upwards and expect that next week the trend will continue when the Governor delivers the quarterly report. A good news story forced by the pandemic we have to admit.
Related Link: Carmeta’s Corner
Last year government launched the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) to increase domestic agricultural production with the objective of enticing more young people and the use of technology into farming. In 2011 Barbados Underground featured the Aquaponnics project located at Bairds Village – Baird’s Village Aquaponics Project, A Case Study For Homegrown Success. Finally Mr. Hinkson, a pioneer of the technology in Barbados is getting the recognition he deserves.
See video on the FEED programme:
It is no secret one of the factors negatively affecting the agriculture sector is praedial larceny. Successive government have paid lip service to introducing measures and enforcing existing laws to protect farmers and the sector. If we are serious about increasing and sustaining output, we MUST address the scourge of praedial larceny. If it were the tourism sector we know the calvary would have been summons by government to lend assistance.
That said we should be encouraged by the growth in non sugar agriculture and continue to improve by increasing technology and education in the sector. Let us guard against crop theft AND leverage opportunities CARICOM can provide. We lack the land space to benefit from scale and the small size of the domestic market to keep price points low to compare with the competition. The following report on the Caricom Agriculture and Food security Task Force is instructive and we pray for its success so that we continue to move the agriculture output needle in the right direction.
See GIS report:
CARICOM Agriculture & Food Security Task Force Established
by Cathy Lashley | Oct 21, 2020 |
CARICOM now has a Food Security Task Force to ensure that member states make agricultural development a priority.
This was disclosed by Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, recently, as he gave the Barbados Government Information Service an update of new initiatives under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) at his Culloden Road office.
Ambassador Comissiong explained that the task force was implemented to ensure that the region does not experience any deficit in food supplies and that the agriculture and food production sectors were enhanced.
He said: “This initiative is intersecting with the Barbados National FEED (Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive) programme. The Government has a programme in place to bring on board 2,000 new farmers to seriously enhance Barbados’ capacity to produce its own food and agricultural produce.”
The envoy added that as it was announced in the Throne Speech, additional resources would be put in place to establish and develop “new markets across our landscape”.
“So, clearly, one of the responses to the crisis (COVID-19 pandemic) is for Barbados to produce much more of its food. Right now, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange purchasing food from outside our CARICOM region. So, if at the regional level and at the national level we could enhance our food production, then in a situation where the tourism has collapsed [and] we are not bringing in the foreign exchange, we can get around that need for foreign exchange by producing more of our food,” he stated.