The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is looking to take a delegation to China to learn modern techniques employed in agriculture there to benefit farmers in Barbados.
Minister Indar Weir made the disclosure during a recent courtesy call with that country’s Ambassador to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng, at the Ministry’s headquarters at Graeme Hall, Christ Church
Mr. Weir said he would take up an invitation offered by Ambassador Yan to visit the People’s Republic of China to see how they used technology to feed their 1.4 billion citizens.
He told the Ambassador that Barbados was planning to develop fish farming and grow foods that were in demand, as opposed to importing them, in order to reduce the country’s food import bill. He added that his Ministry was currently developing programmes in aquaponics, hydroponics and the area of small ruminants, where they were exploring the “value chain” of Blackbelly sheep skin to generate foreign currency.
Additionally, Mr. Weir revealed that the Ministry was also planning to develop its goat production programme to create cheeses, ice cream and other items that would drive economic growth. He also suggested that agriculture could help boost the cruise industry, by using local produce to create indigenous dishes that cruise passengers could enjoy when they disembarked the ships.
Ambassador Yan said that at one time, China had a problem feeding some of its people but it had reached a point where it could do so comfortably. He added that Barbados had a lot of land which could be cultivated for agricultural use and that his country was willing to cooperate further with Barbados to develop its agricultural sector by assisting in the area of modern technology.
The Ambassador noted that China had to date invested BDS $48 million towards the construction of the Hope Agricultural Training Institute in St. Lucy and the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship through the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training.
Stating that the two projects had his full support and that of the Ministry, Mr. Weir suggested to Ambassador Yan that the Chinese Embassy could include the field of agriculture during its annual award of scholarships, since Barbados was also interested in developing the scientific aspect of agriculture.