If Barbados is to become economically viable, there must be greater synergies between agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
This view was expressed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart over the weekend, as he delivered the feature address at the Barbados Agricultural Society???s (BAS) Annual General Assembly at the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados.
Mr. Stuart noted that after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the BAS and the manufacturing and tourism sectors, he had heard expressions of disappointment that it was not working smoothly.
???Let me warn that we should not mistake a moment in time for eternity. It is still a young Memorandum; there are still kinks to be ironed out and there is still confidence to be built. But I think that the parties to that Memorandum should stick to it, so that in the fullness of time all three sides get the results that they want,??? he said.
The Prime Minister expressed the view that those complaints could be remedied by civilised consultation. ???That is what is required, not impatience and repudiation. This is a process of maturing and therefore we all have to show some patience as we move along the trajectory of maturity,??? he contended.
However, he maintained that local hotels should buy their produce primarily from local farmers and only purchase from others if they could not be sourced here. He said it was not correct to suggest that tourists did not want to consume local produce.
He told his audience: ???They come in search of a new experience, and that new experience includes a new culinary experience. Therefore, I think that our hoteliers need to be a little more sensitive to that fact and support the local farming community more loyally. Similarly, the manufacturing sector and more agro processing than we have now has to be a feature of our landscape.???
Mr. Stuart said the time had come to get agriculture back on the table of economic statistics and suggested that this could only be done if the country produced more; citizens became more interested in the sector; and Barbadians bought local produce.
???When you buy local you also protect local jobs???. We have to get our priorities right and invest in our society and invest in our own people. Prices charged by our farmers are to cover costs of production, but we repudiate them in favour of foreign producers on the, in my view, flimsy excuse that you can get it cheaper if you buy it overseas.
???But, in buying overseas you are investing in other people???s economies, turning your back on your own; investing in other people???s jobs, and turning your back on your own brothers and sisters here in Barbados,??? he insisted.
The Prime Minister remarked that people must become a lot more sensitive to the need to be more patriotic and loyal to their country, farmers and producers.