|Part of the audience at the seminar. (A. Miller/BGIS)|
The link between food security and climate change should not be ignored by this country.
This was underscored by Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, as he addressed the first in a series of quarterly seminars hosted by the Barbados Manufacturers Association (BMA) for stakeholders at the Cave Hill School of Business this morning.
He said: "These issues are very relevant to Barbados, considering that we are a small island developing state, which has to manage the challenge of food insecurity on a daily basis; a challenge which stems from the fact that we are a net importer of food," he said.
With an annual food importation bill of over $500 million, Mr. Kellman stressed that climate change could be seen as an opportunity for Barbados to modernise its agricultural sector and explore the potential of greater collaboration between agriculture and industry.
"Safeguarding food security in the face of climate change also implies avoiding the disruptions or declines in global and local food supplies," the Industry Minister remarked, "[and] to this end, local investment in agriculture must be encouraged.???? This investment calls for research in crop varieties that would resist pests and other diseases…," he added.
Speaking about the far-reaching effects of climate change, Minister Kellman noted that the repercussions on food availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability would "have an impact on human health, livelihood assets, food production and food purchasing power and market flows."
He added that "a country like Barbados which is already vulnerable and food insecure is likely to be one of the first to be affected by climate change," as evidenced by drastic changes in the dry and wet seasons.??
The only solution left, he observed, was to identify a food adaptation strategy, which would take climate change into consideration.
Mr. Kellman surmised that the key to winning the fight was knowledge, which would lead to the creation of methodologies which would create positive results.
He cautioned those present that "what is happening in North America today could easily have happened to Barbados".
Water Quality Analyst at the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Richard Suckoo, opened the seminar with an overview on climate change; while CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, spoke to the effect of climate change on crop yields.??
Other topics for the day included Shipping Costs and Its Impact on Production and The Slow Food Movement.