Food Security Number One On Agenda

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As Barbados and the rest of the world prepare to celebrate World Food Day this Friday, October 16, the issue of food security still proves to be a critical talking point.

Therefore, it is only appropriate that the theme chosen this year by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), "Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis", reflects the current state of food production, not only at the local level, but globally, as well.

And, according to Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Charleston Lucas,?? one of the ways that Barbadians could assist in implementing practices to sustain food security would be to "get back to basics."

"We are asking the average Barbadian farmer to go back to the old days, where they have small plots of land in their backyards and they can resort to producing vegetables and herbs, – seasonings, as well as carrots, beans and beets.?? Even if there are constraints from not having enough space, then they can use things like half drums, old containers and so on," he explained.

Noting that the significance of World Food Day was to highlight the existence of poverty and hunger worldwide, the Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer emphasised that the Ministry had a number of programmes in place that would aid farmers in their quest to produce and harvest their own food.

"First, there is the Land for the Landless Programme, where persons are willing to farm but don’t have access to land.?? They can go to the Barbados Agricultural

Development and Marketing Corporation and sign up and try to get a piece of land to work.?? There is also the financial side, where the Agriculture Development Fund has been set up by government, as well as a very good incentives scheme that the Ministry has in place."

Minister of Agriculture, Haynesley Benn, also reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to achieving food security for all Barbadians.

"The Ministry of Agriculture has placed food security high on its agenda, and consequently, has developed research programmes, especially among the farming community to encourage the sector to be more competitive and to be in a position to offer produce at affordable prices."

He added: "We are already reeling from the effects of increased food and fuel prices from last year and the economic downturn of this year has dealt us all a further blow…

"On account of this crisis, we are now forced to pay more attention to food security in the region and, indeed, globally.?? Traditionally, countries in the Caribbean tended to look to the non-agricultural sector, namely tourism and the industrial sectors, as the main sources for earning revenue.?? However, the prevailing global challenge has now caused us to shift our focus towards achieving food security," he underscored.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lucas challenged Barbadians from all walks of life to get ???on board’ in the fight to achieve food sovereignty.

"Start planting your own vegetables.?? It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate but, just make a start.?? By doing this on a continuous basis, you are actually reducing the

amount of money that you would spend in the supermarkets, and overall it would benefit the country," he stressed.

To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture is holding a number of events in celebration of World Food Day.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14, there will be a Health Clinic/Home Garden Exhibition at the Ministry’s Graeme Hall headquarters from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on Friday, October 16, the Ministry will launch its Young Agro-Entrepreneurs Project in the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room at 10:00 a.m.?? Following this, the Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn, will visit the Greenhouse Project at the Apostolic Teaching Centre, Balls, Christ Church at 12:00 noon.

October 16 holds a special significance to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, since it was on this day in 1945 that the organisation was formed.??

tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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