|Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite (FP)|
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management is in the process of developing an agriculture white paper in an effort to reposition the sector.
The white paper will seek to shift the focus of the sector from strictly ???agricultural’ to a ???food and agricultural’ sector, where the latter could be developed into one of the pillars of Barbados’ economy and assist in its diversification.
Chairman of the National Agricultural Commission, Dr. Chelston Brathwaite, said based on preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture, the food and agricultural sector could contribute to four key areas of local economic development.??
These are: saving valuable foreign exchange by reducing the current food import bill, estimated by the Central Bank at some $409 million in 2011; providing safe, fresh and nutritious food, which will help to reduce the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases; promoting agribusiness enterprises, which can assist in the creation of jobs; and the reduction of unemployment.
This new approach, Dr. Brathwaite added, would result in the preparation of policy measures for areas critical to the development of the food and agricultural sector.
These include: land use; praedial larceny; food and nutrition security; food imports; investment; promotion of inter-sector linkages between the food and agricultural sector and other areas such as tourism, manufacturing and energy; capacity building and the development of appropriate human resources; the development of a sugar cane industry; incentives and technical and financial support; and the role of other national, regional and international agencies in support of the sector.
The Ministry of Agriculture will host a number of national consultations to obtain feedback on these and other policy areas and to assist with the inputs necessary for the preparation of the white paper.
Details of the consultation process will be announced to stakeholders and the public at a later date.