Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick. (FP)??

Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, has given yesterday’s National Consultation on Agriculture the "thumbs up", suggesting that it would help pave the way ahead for this key sector.

The multi-sectoral meeting, held at the Savannah Hotel, was an opportunity for the Ministry to engage stakeholders on ways to move the sector forward and assist in the development of a White Paper on Agriculture.

The preparation of the White Paper is but the first step in a process that will lead to the transformation and repositioning of the local agricultural sector.

Describing the consultation as an "eye opener" and "educational", Dr. Estwick said many of the stakeholders offered valuable suggestions regarding the development of the sector.

"The consultation has been able to inject a lot of enthusiasm, vibrancy and energy into discussion on the sector and in particular, the stakeholders had a better understanding of the issues involved in the transformation of the sector.

"We will now work towards setting up a White Paper and broadening the policy base, bearing in mind the overall objective of introducing the necessary linkages between agricultural operations."

Dr. Estwick suggested that this new framework, would focus on greater linkages between agriculture and critical areas such as health, tourism, energy and the environment and set the stage for a modern agricultural infrastructure.

"It now has to be supported by the necessary legislation, new regulations, and adjustments and so on. In particular, I am talking about the National Agriculture Health and Food Control Programme. That becomes important to the export drive, the protection of Barbadian consumers from unsavoury imports and it drives food security," he said.

The Agriculture Minister stressed that yesterday’s session was but the first step and called on all stakeholders to continue efforts to move the sector forward.

"All in all, I think we leave here committed and understanding the path we have to take and redoubling our efforts," Dr. Estwick said.


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