The development of the agricultural sector must be a priority in order to achieve sustainable growth in the Barbados economy.

This view was expressed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Esworth Reid.

His comments came as he addressed a National Stakeholders Consultation for a Strategic Plan for the Development of Agriculture in Barbados, last Tuesday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Mr. Reid said that in the past few decades, emphasis was placed on developing services sectors such as tourism, but noted that Barbadians needed to recognise the important role being played by the agricultural sector.??

???Let it be known that I am not saying that all emphasis must be re-directed away from the services sector to the agriculture sector. Rather, what I am saying is that the development of agriculture must be given a greater level of significance than it is presently given,??? he said.

The Permanent Secretary noted that the strategic plan for the industry was timely, but he cautioned that a ???beautiful and attractive??? plan on a paper which was not implemented would be useless.?????The way forward for Barbados at this juncture of our economic history is for both the private and the public sector to stop all the ???lot-a-long-talk??? about planning to do [things] and begin doing. The time for only planning is fading away fast.

???Stakeholders of this agricultural plan, Listen to me! I urge you, when this plan is finally handed over to us and it is accepted as a final document let us not just put it in a glass case or a desk drawer???,??? he stressed.

Mr. Reid pointed out that the public and private sectors must work together to help move agriculture forward. He said that the Ministry could facilitate and create an environment for ???agro-business to grow???, but the private sector and farmers had to play their part, and must be willing to work together.

???If the sector is to stand [the test of time] and be successful, all the breakaway and fragmented subgroups in this sector must settle their differences if there are differences to be settled, bury the hatchet if there is a hatchet to be buried and remove all the mistrust for each other that may currently exist. Fragmentation in any economic sector in a country as small and vulnerable as ours does not make any economic sense at any level,??? he added.

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