Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment, Ryan Straughn, is committed to ensuring that the infrastructure and strategic partnerships with the private sector are in place over the next few years to bring more agriculture land into production.
He gave the undertaking today as a panelist in the virtual forum on the theme Human Security Approach, Policy and Small Women Farmers in the Eastern Caribbean, coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The session, carried on UWITV, is part of UNDP’s Building Effective Resilience for Human Security in Caribbean Countries: The Imperative of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in a Strengthened Agriculture Sector initiative.
Minister Straughn shared with his virtual audience that government has an expansive land bank between the Barbados Agricultural Management Company and the Barbados Agriculture and Development Marketing Company.
However, he contended that approximately 60 per cent of those lands were currently not in production and stressed that they must be cultivated in order to “achieve the kind of scale that we need to be able to support other elements within the context of agriculture in order to bring greater value along the supply chain”.
Mr. Straughn pointed out that a team of officials had attended the Fruit Logistica conference in Berlin, Germany, recently, with a view to establishing a road map for the country to access overseas markets.
He also said that in a post-COVID environment, collaborative efforts between Barbados, Guyana, Suriname and other countries willing to partner would assist in the building out of the island’s agriculture, food and nutritional security and the export potential for the sector.
The Minister stated: “We’ve already started within agriculture to accelerate, with the introduction of new legislation, new infrastructure supported by the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation for the sector and to facilitate participation of women and young people in agriculture to drive the export potential for Barbados, as well as any of the agro businesses that exist on the island.”
Mr. Straughn added: “Cross border collaboration with Suriname, Guyana and any other country that may wish to participate in such an endeavour is key to building out the food and nutritional security in Barbados and in the region, and to drive growth by being able to export.”
He also mentioned the importance of new technologies in agriculture to assist with record keeping, business, and farm management practices.