|??Dr. David Estwick|
Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, Dr. David Estwick, believes local farmers must seek to adopt a more businesslike approach if the local sector is to move forward.
Speaking during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, he said the agricultural sector could make an even more valuable contribution to the Barbados economy.
However, Dr. Estwick stressed that it could not be business as usual and farmers would have to adapt to both local and global changes in the sector.
"Agriculturalists and farmers must move to become businessmen. They must understand the precepts of business, that is, how to manage and create business plans, how to get financing and how to manage from production to final distribution, whether it happens to be a primary product or a secondary or tertiary one," he maintained.
In outlining his vision for the sector, Dr. Estwick emphasised that agriculture must move beyond mere food production and embrace avenues such as agro processing.
Agro processing involves turning primary agricultural products or crops into secondary or tertiary goods for sale.
The Agriculture Minister underscored that there must also be a change in the educational opportunities offered for farmers and persons interested in working in the sector.
"We must now look at them as not just farmers but as a businessman who has made a conscious decision to engage in [this type of activity] and therefore, we must create the necessary training that goes along with this. So, I want to see very soon an agricultural institute, a redevelopment of the Ministry of Agriculture within the University of the West Indies so we can start training specialists at the tertiary level and, in turn, enhance all production elements within the Ministry," Dr. Estwick said.
The Agriculture Minister revealed that he would be seeking to create stronger linkages between the agricultural and small business aspects of the ministry, which he believes would be of greater benefit to local farmers.