The economic downturn has facilitated increased investment in agriculture as the engine for economic growth in both the public and private sectors.

So says Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick. He was speaking at the opening of a two-day National Seminar on Food and Nutrition Security yesterday, at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Addressing an audience that included representatives from the Organization of American States, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Dr. Estwick said: ??????It involves not only increased Government spending on agriculture and infrastructure for inputs and marketing but also encourages private sector investment [which] includes foreign direct investment in food production, post-harvest storage, processing and marketing???

???I am excited about the possibilities for renewed investment in food and agricultural science, technology and knowledge development and transfer.???

The Agriculture Minister explained that the sector needed to influence and attract more young people to become agricultural entrepreneurs, and added that the needs of ???small holder??? farmers also had to be addressed. He submitted that these farmers should be encouraged to be a part of the implementation of the draft Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan, which was being finalised during the seminar, so that they could better participate in new potential investments.

???Perhaps the key for unleashing the full potential of our small holder farming is the establishment of Food Zones at specific locations around the island. This initiative would be community driven.

???I would like to reiterate my Government???s vision that all members of the Barbadian society permanently enjoy their right to adequate food and to be permanently empowered with sufficient resources to make sound food choices that lead to a healthy lifestyle,??? Dr. Estwick emphasised.

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