Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn

Government remains fully committed to the implementation of policies and programmes which provide for the eradication of hunger.

Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn, gave this assurance recently, while delivering an address at the World Food Conference in Rome.

The Agriculture Minister explained that it was within this context that Barbados joined Member Nations at the World Food Summit in Rome in November 1996 in an effort to abolish hunger in all countries. This was also done with the view of reducing the number of undernourished people globally, by 2015.

Minister Benn asserted that Barbados stood ready to reaffirm its commitment and support to ensuring that "every human being has the basic right to food.?? He pointed out that while Barbadians do not generally experience hunger in the true sense of the word, there were challenges which the country faced in ensuring that the food requirements for its people were satisfied.

"Barbados’ food requirements are met through a combination of local production and imports, and food is accessible to the majority of the population.?? However, Government remains concerned over the extremely high dependence on imports to meet domestic food requirements, which has placed Barbados in the category of Net Food Importing Developing Countries," he stated.

In pointing out that approximately 74 per cent of Barbados’ food requirements were being sourced through imports, Mr. Benn told the gathering that "the erosion of preferences in agricultural commodities such as sugar and bananas has also compounded the situation confronting many of our economies, as we (Barbados) seek to diversify our economies into other areas."

The Minister expressed concern that even though Barbados was a Small Island Developing State, the constant surge in food prices continued to underscore the country’s low level of agricultural export market share, in spite of the existence of high levels of subsistence farming in particular commodities.

In this regard, Mr. Benn indicated that "the effects of climate change could no longer be ignored, in light of the potential impact on our economies.

"The climate change phenomenon has resulted in temperature increases, sea level rises and changes in weather patterns which have implications for our land, agricultural and fisheries resources," he underscored.

The Minister charged that unless climate change was addressed, it would continue to decline the world stock volumes and undermine investor confidence, resulting in the reduction of investments in agriculture.??tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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