Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, Dr. David Estwick
Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, Dr. David Estwick, believes that a properly managed agricultural sector still has a lot to offer Barbados, by providing tremendous benefits at both the individual and national level.
He was speaking at the recently held Agrofest 2011 staged in Queen Park.?? Apart from reducing the high food import bill, Dr. Estwick suggested that growing more foods locally could provide a nutritious diet for families, impart the knowledge of basic agricultural techniques to the youth, generate employment and develop a stronger sense of community.
"From as early as primary school, our children should know the benefits of planting fruit trees, vegetable crops and raising small animals and poultry. We must return to that spirit of entrepreneurship which was so much a part of our early development, when we shared the food crops which we produced. It is this spirit which will help to nurture us beyond harsh economic circumstances, build strong communities and be of benefit to all of us in the future," he asserted.
Dr. Estwick maintained that agriculture should not only focus on feeding the local population but on providing healthy alternatives for the tourism industry, hotels, restaurants and possibly products for export in the future.
The Agriculture Minister added that land and water resources must be properly utilised and conserved in the interest of agricultural production.
"Areas in the Scotland District are ripe for water collection and storage to supply our needs. Agricultural production will also benefit our festivals, [the] vending community and markets. Festivals such as Holetown, Oistins, Bridgetown Market and the various fairs would be ongoing activities where we can showcase our produce for sale and for general consumption," he told the gathering.
Dr. Estwick also revealed that Government had secured a loan fund from the Inter-American Development Bank to undertake the first phase of the establishment of a National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency.
The Agency, he explained would support an effective regime of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the finalisation of laws and administrative practices, including animal and veterinary public health, food safety quality, risk management, laboratory services and praedial larceny.??