The Agricultural Sector in Barbados is alive, well and capable of meeting the demands of the public.
This is the view of Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, who was speaking during a tour of Agrofest, last Sunday at Queens Park.
Dr. Estwick said that it was time for Barbadians to stop thinking that they needed to import foods and understand the importance of growing and producing foods not only from a nutritional standpoint but to preserve foreign exchange as well.
???I have a fundamental problem with some persons who believe that what we should do is grow more hotels and condominiums and bring in the tourist and then have to import the food to feed the tourist. It doesn???t make any sense to me because it undermines the same inflows of foreign exchange that you are trying to preserve.???
The Agriculture Minister also stated that he did not believe that persons should be allowed to import products into the island ???willy nilly???, especially products that could be produced locally. He believes that if ignored, the practice could significantly affect the Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors of Barbados.
???I want to send a warning to those individuals who believe that they can just import whatever they want because they may have the opportunity to do it. I will bring every one of those items, if the cabinet agrees, under the state trading enterprise and they will have to come through the BADMC (Barbados Agriculture Development Marketing Cooperation), in order to have access to those products and demonstrate that they cannot get them locally???.
Mr. Estwick said that he was confident that the local producers could handle the demand for the agricultural products if they received the investment and the technology needed to produce their products.
???My job as the Minister of Agriculture is to promote and defend primary production and also to create the environment for the sector to be effective. I am confident that the local producers can handle it ??? once you create the environment where they are forced to come up to scratch and you have the investments to allow them to access the technologies they need to sustain that growth and development, I am confident the farmers will be able to do this quite readily???.