Agriculture Minister, Senator Haynesley Benn????

In spite of the current economic downturn, Barbados’ agricultural sector can still boast of an increase especially in the root crop sub-sector.

Word of this has come from Agriculture Minister, Senator Haynesley Benn, who revealed that the highest level of improvement during last year was reported for the root crop sub-sector, while there was an overall increase of 69 per cent in crop production.?? He was speaking recently at the opening of Agrofest in Queen’s Park.

The Minister divulged that yam production had grown from 279.6 thousand kilograms in 2008, to 824.29 thousand kilograms in 2009, an increase of 195 per cent; whilst onion production had gone from 333. 20 thousand kilograms to 625.96 thousand kilograms, up 88 per cent.

He further disclosed that cassava and sweet potatoes had expanded by 48 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively, with eddoes being the only root crop which recorded a decline in production, down 4.2 per cent from the previous year.

Senator Benn also pointed out that vegetable production had grown by 12 per cent with squash increasing by 93 per cent and hot peppers, cucumbers and sweet peppers improving by 43, 38 and 33 per cent, respectively.

"I hope that I have demonstrated that all is not lost for agriculture; but we need your continued support…agriculture is crucial to our economical and social national development," he stressed.

The agriculture official also commented that the livestock sector had seen a recorded overall growth of two per cent, with veal being the leader, showing an increase of 15.3 per cent.

"Mutton, milk and eggs increased by five per cent, while pork and beef production grew by four per cent," Mr. Benn explained.??????????

"The objective of my Ministry is to create a vibrant, dynamic agricultural sector.?? We seek through our incentive programmes and extension services to create an environment where adequate levels of food can be produced at a competitive market place…the viability of the farmers’ business and the contribution of agriculture to the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of this country are matters that are of paramount importance," he underlined.?? tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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