Barbados will need to boost its agricultural production if it is to stave off rising food prices, save valuable jobs and generate foreign exchange.
This is the view of Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Charleston Lucas, who posited that no economy or society could survive the challenges of the global marketplace without a vibrant and efficient agricultural sector.
He was speaking at the launch of the fifth phase of the Youth in Agriculture Programme at the Ivy Community Centre, the Ivy, St. Michael.
The Programme seeks to expose young Barbadians to theoretical and practical aspects of the agriculture sector as well as assist in the development of business, social and life skills.
Stressing that there were tremendous economic and social benefits from a dynamic and sustainable agricultural sector, Mr. Lucas suggested one way in which production could be increased was through the implementation of modern agriculture technology.
"We must step up in terms of our production and productivity. We must now use less land to produce more. We must also expand where possible; where there is idle land and try to get it into agriculture. The use of appropriate technology and best agricultural practices would be employed and hopefully we are seeking to make the sector more attractive to young persons, so that you can come into the industry and find gainful employment," he said.
Mr. Lucas also told the participants that as part of efforts to reposition the local sector, the Ministry of Agriculture would soon be hosting a number of town hall meetings to solicit ideas and feedback from stakeholders.
"Over the next couple of weeks, the Ministry will be engaged in a number of town hall meetings across the island where we will speak with the stakeholders in the industry and the general public about agriculture. We don’t want to confine it to only farmers themselves. We would like to hear of new ideas or innovations persons have.
This will lead to a national forum where we will try to get together those views and ideas, so that we can map out a strategy for the future direction of the agricultural sector in Barbados; to make it a dynamic sector and restore it to its former glory," the Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer said.