Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, has warned that if Barbados does not place more emphasis on producing its own food, it will be forced to rely on costly imports, therefore putting its own food security and labour force at risk.
He made these comments over the weekend at the graduation and awards ceremony of the Youth Agri-preneurship Incubator and Summer Camp Programmes, at the Savannah Hotel.
Citing the recent shortage of imported fruits and vegetables in the local supermarkets due to the passage of Hurricane Matthew in Florida, Dr. Estwick pointed out that events that impacted negatively on food production overseas would undoubtedly affect Barbados if the status quo was allowed to continue.
He stressed that the involvement of the youth was of the “utmost importance” in ensuring the sustainability of our agriculture production systems and to breaking the cycle of reliability.
Remarking that “young minds have the propensity to quickly adapt to new ideas, concepts and technologies”, the Agriculture Minister added that the presence of the graduands was testimony that they accepted agriculture as a viable business venture, and would therefore “attempt to change the negative ways in which agriculture was once perceived.
“Modern agriculture is more than the drudgery that is conjured up in the mind about slavery and fiddling with a hoe and fork. The agricultural sector has the potential for significant high economic gain and it offers career opportunities all along the value chain from farm to market.
“Indeed, the participants in both programmes … were exposed to the various new technologies and methodologies in the Ministry of Agriculture and other entities that would enhance crop and livestock management; reduce causal effects of climate change; and increase our national food security,” he maintained.
Seventeen agri-preneurs and 16 secondary school students graduated from cohort two of the (YAIP) and the Youth Agri-preneurship Summer Camp.