|Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission and Director Emeritus of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Dr. Cheltson Brathwaite. (A.Miller/BGIS)|
A leading agriculturalist is concerned that Barbados as a sovereign nation is too dependent on other countries for its food.
This observation has come from Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission and Director Emeritus of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Dr. Cheltson Brathwaite, who acknowledged that, while it was impractical for Barbados to grow all of the food its citizens required, it was in the country’s interest to produce as much as it could.
"It is well known that we are only producing a limited amount of our food requirements. When your food is being produced by someone else, you are clearly subject to the whims, fancies, prices and quality of that someone else and there could be a time when you get no food," he said.
Speaking last night at the second town hall meeting on agriculture at the Valley Resource Centre, The Valley, St. George, he noted that there were some crops that Barbados did not grow such as rice and wheat, and he suggested that Barbadians may soon have to make a critical choice about their dietary patterns.
"A significant amount of what we eat is based on five commodities – wheat, rice, corn, soya beans and potatoes…We don’t produce them, yet they are the basis of our daily diet…but there is nothing that says a people cannot change," Dr. Brathwaite maintained.
He added that any effort to boost local food production should be bourne out of a sense of national commitment, duty and pride.
"There is no place in the world where the agricultural sector has done well without national commitment and without the commitment of the people. I’m not only talking about the farmers; I’m talking about the nation. If agriculture is going to do well, a nation must commit to the agricultural sector, a nation must be serious about its agriculture," the agricultural expert said.
Dr. Brathwaite pointed out that the high food prices presently impacting the sector would not be a temporary phenomenon, and as such Barbados had to look inwards for the solution to feed its population while developing food security.