Agriculture Minister Gives Updates on Projects

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Minister of Agriculture,??Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, outlines the projects and programmes achieved during his two-year tenure, with the press, yesterday, during??the launch of the Tractor Cultivation Scheme in Fairy Valley, Christ Church. (A.Gaskin/BGIS)????

Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, has been giving account of his two-year stewardship and updating the public about some of the major projects and programmes under the aegis of his Ministry.

Speaking during the launch of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation’s (BADMC) new Tractor Cultivation Scheme at Fairy Valley, Christ Church yesterday, Dr. Estwick, who assumed Ministerial responsibility for the portfolio in October 2010, said his department had been tasked with five major projects, and to date, those initiatives were either at an advanced stage or completed.

He listed these as the construction of the new Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) headquarters in the Pine, St. Michael; the delivery of some three million gallons of water to St. Philip and Christ Church; the construction of new molasses storage facilities at the Bridgetown Port; the development of a Tractor Cultivation Scheme as set out in the 2010 Budgetary Proposals and the transformation of the sugar industry to a sugar cane industry.

"We were tasked with getting the headquarters of the BWA up and it is going up. We were tasked with providing three million gallons of water to St. Philip and Christ Church and the contract has been awarded to Potable Water Supply and their job is to find the water to make sure all the developments in the south and the east of the country can be sorted out.

"We were also tasked with creating new molasses storage facilities to sustain the rum industry and that is being done. Preconco is already on the job. We were then tasked in the Budget of 2010 [with] a tractor cultivation scheme. That has started.?? The last major task we have to deal with is the transformation of the sugar industry to a sugar cane industry," Dr. Estwick pointed out.

With regard to the latter, the Agriculture Minister disclosed that the development of the multipurpose facility at Andrews Factory was moving full steam ahead with government working in conjunction with a Chinese firm.

"We are working with a Chinese company known as CMEC, which is the sixth largest Chinese state corporation, and they are going to be dealing with the engineering aspects. We are also working with a regional and local consortium because the way the Chinese Import Export Bank works is that they would have one of their state corporations come to them for the funding and then the Chinese corporation would then deal with the engineering aspects. You also must have a domestic component and that is now being put together and we should have a Memorandum of Understanding signed by this week. So, hopefully early in the new year we will be dealing with that operation down at Andrews Sugar Factory," Dr. Estwick said.

He explained that the new multipurpose factory would produce some 150, 000 megawatts of electricity for the grid as well as ???A’ strike and ???B’ strike molasses for the rum industry.

"Right now we import ???C’ strike from Guyana. It costs about $600 per tonne and is only 50 per cent fermentable, but the ???A’ strike has over 95 per cent. In other words, the amount of rum that we can get out of a tonne of ???A’ strike compared to ???C’ is like chalk an cheese. That is the reason why we are going to make sure that the factory is put in place so the rum industry can produce more rum, brand it and become profitable," the Agriculture Minister said.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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