Barbados needs to reduce its food import bill says Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
She made the comment on Monday night as she addressed the launch of the Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED), at Sunbury Plantation Great House, St. Philip.
The Prime Minister said the country must reduce the amount of foreign exchange it spends.
“We cannot afford to have a food import bill of $700 million odd dollars, 685 million to be precise for 2018, of which vegetables and fruits account for just under 10 per cent, at 66 million dollars roughly…. It is simply not good enough, and Barbadians can do better if we pull together and work together.
“If we can feed…ourselves, then we reduce the foreign exchange [being spent]; we provide jobs; we produce healthy food and we end up also creating the basis and platform for wealth,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley lamented that some Barbadians were eating unhealthily, and said there needed to be a partnership with the Ministries of Agriculture and Information to communicate simple but effective messages to Barbadian households.
She suggested that it was absolutely critical that Barbadians take control of their eating habits.
She thanked the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir; Chairman of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, Anthony Wood, and their officials, for ensuring the ministry’s goal of food security was being realized.
She gave the assurance that government would work assiduously to ensure the success of the FEED programme and other initiatives being rolled out by the Ministry of Agriculture.
In his address, Mr. Wood underscored the importance of marketing for FEED, and disclosed that a marketing department would be established by the BADMC this Wednesday.
He told the gathering: “This programme will lead to a significant increase in agricultural production in Barbados. But what we cannot have, as we seek to use this programme to reduce our food import bill, is farmers and indeed BADMC struggling to get the produce to market….
“All the planning has been concluded for that department to be launched and it is just a matter of getting on with the formal establishment…. Even today (Monday), we have discussed the importance of the marketing department at BADMC to the success of this FEED programme.” Mr. Wood said the board was fully supportive of FEED as he stressed the important role agriculture could play in the resuscitation of the economy.