Dr. Brathwaite: Serious Rethink Needed If Agriculture Is To Grow

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Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite (FP)

If local agriculture is to prosper, then there must be a serious rethink about the present model under which the sector currently operates.

This is the view of Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite, who observed that since independence Barbados had diversified many of its critical sectors including finance and education.

However, he lamented that the agriculture sector was still rooted in a colonial model which is based on the production of bulk sugar for the European market.

"This colonial agricultural model favours a small mercantile minority of the society but does not contribute, in my view, to the sustainability or the growth of the economy. It is based on a product that is no longer sweet economically," he said.

During a recent presentation, the prominent agriculturalist noted that agriculture, once a significant economic activity in Barbados, had now become marginalised, as the country moved towards a service-oriented economy.

But, Dr. Brathwaite was of the view that agriculture still has a valuable role to play, in particular, ensuring the country’s food and nutrition security; providing employment; preserving the environment; and improving the aesthetic appeal of the country.

He also underscored the importance of developing a local food production programme which would, among other things, cushion the impact of imported food inflation due to increases in global food prices.

"A programme that recognises that the recent increases in food prices is not a temporary phenomenon but structural change driven by climate change; the continued high price of oil; the use of agricultural food products for biofuel production; and world demand for more food due to population growth, and urbanisation…," Dr. Brathwaite said.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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