Agriculture Ministry Working to Improve its Operations

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Hampden Lovell receives his award for Long Service from Agriculture Minister, Dr. David Estwick, last Friday at Almond Bay in Hastings, Christ Church. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

With rising food prices pushing nearly 70 million persons worldwide into extreme poverty in the last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management is leaving ???no stone unturned’ to ensure this island’s food security.

This is according to Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, who said despite the increasing threats to the survival of the agricultural industry, he believes greater food production was the answer to dealing with spikes in food prices.

He was speaking during the World Food Day Awards ceremony last Friday at Almond Bay, Hastings, Christ Church, which was observed under the theme Food Prices: From Crisis to Sustainability.

"At my ministry our response to this situation is to breathe new life into the agricultural sector. Agriculture has to be accepted as the mechanism for stabilising our food prices…my Ministry remains committed to research and development which can lead to new and innovative methods that will serve as the catalysts for transforming the agricultural sector into a viable entity."

The Agriculture Minister continued: "Without a doubt, food price inflation has become the most important type of inflation. I wish to reiterate that we must now look to increase domestic food production to restore equilibrium to our food pricing market."

Among the initiatives which the Ministry of Agriculture was undertaking to boost food production and strengthen the industry include the development of a Draft Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan.

This would involve the development and implementation of policies at the national and regional level as well as promote multi-sectoral coordination between areas such as agriculture, health, nutrition, trade and industry.

According to Dr. Estwick, his ministry would soon embark on a project designed to, among other things, improve operations at the ministry, better cope with changes in the global environment and respond more effectively to the needs of stakeholders.

"This project is aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the service delivery capacity of the Ministry with respect to the services that it provides to the agricultural and fisheries sector as a whole and to agro-enterprise in particular, in support of greater national food security through increases in the quantity, quality and competitiveness of locally-produced food for domestic consumption."

The World Food Day Awards saw several Barbadians who have made significant contributions to the agricultural sector rewarded. Vernon Cumberbatch, Hampden Lovell and Hugh Grannum won the Ministry of Agriculture’s Award for Long and Meritorious Service; Keeley Holder copped the prize for Innovation and Enterprise; while Michael Forde won for Innovation and Business.

Gregory Jordan was honoured in the category of Long and Outstanding Service; Hilary Weekes took home the trophy for Long and Dedicated Service; while Julian Dottin was the recipient in the category of Commitment and Service.

For the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Awards, Edgar Parris and Everton Hunte copped bronze, while Anthony Nicholls received the silver award.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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