In an effort to ensure that Barbadians and the wider Caribbean have access to “safe food”, emphasis must be placed on effective management of pesticides and other chemicals within the agricultural sector.
This view was expressed by Senior Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Michael James, as he delivered remarks on behalf of Minister Indar Weir, at the opening of the 22nd Meeting of the Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards. It was held on Monday at the Courtyard by Marriot, Hastings, Christ Church.
Given the negative impact on food crop production, as a result of climate change and pests, Mr. James acknowledged that chemicals could be used to mitigate the issue but warned of the dangers of improper use.
“It is because of the effects of pests that we have become reliant on the use of pesticides, but these chemicals which are a used internationally, in an effort to improve crop production, can be toxic, and therefore should not be used indiscriminately,” he said, adding that there was a need to closely monitor the effects of the items throughout their lifecycles.
Noting the tough task of monitoring the use of pesticides, the Senior Agricultural Officer praised the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for its continued assistance.
Pledging their commitment to ongoing efforts, the FAO’s Sub-Regional Coordinator, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul, reiterated that sound management of pesticides was integral to ensuring safe and sustainable food supplies within the Caribbean.
Fifteen Caribbean countries are represented at the three-day workshop, which ends on Wednesday, June 13. It is being hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, in association with the FAO. Other partners are the Global Environment Facility, the University of the West Indies, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, the Caribbean Agriculture Health and Food Safety Agency, Pesticide Action Network-UK and Rotterdam Convention.
The objective is to chart the way forward for the proper monitoring and control of pesticide use within the region.