Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, is of the view that there should be room for Barbados’ agricultural production to develop despite World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.
He stated this position while delivering the feature address over the weekend at a graduation and awards ceremony for the Youth Agri-preneurship Incubator and Summer Camp Programmes at the Savannah Hotel.
Dr. Estwick maintained that he did not subscribe to the view that because Barbados became a signatory to the WTO in 1994, it should accept that because something could be obtained cheaper someplace else that it should be imported into Barbados. He stated that this led to the island not growing products locally, and to therefore denying itself the opportunity to provide domestic employment.
“I am of the view, and strongly so, that we have the capability, even within the WTO’s rules and capacities, to be able to establish the capability to develop our own agricultural production capabilities and allow our farmers to produce for a domestic consumption where the State can provide that cover. It is necessary for us to do this,” he contended.
Noting that he had visited farms in the United States, one of which was bigger than Barbados, the Minister stressed that the island’s ability to compete in terms of price, technology and assets was “a figment”.
“The State must be prepared that if it is spending money on food, it must aim … that people’s money should be spent here in Barbados or buying food from farmers producing food in Barbados,” the Minister suggested.