Statement By Senator The Honourable Haynesley Benn, Acting Minister Of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries And Water Resource Management To Commemorate World Water Day March 22, 2012

Today, March 22 is World Water Day and Barbados joins the international community in commemorating this event.

As you may recall, World Water Day is celebrated annually on this date, as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Each year, the ever-changing theme focuses on a specific aspect of freshwater and this year 2012, the theme is Water and Food Security.

This theme is consistent with the mandate of my Ministry as it seeks to delineate at a higher level, the direction management of the portfolios of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management should follow for the betterment of the Barbadian society.

In this position, it collectively shoulders a responsibility for the management and protection of Barbados’ water resources and wastewater management; along with a duty to imbue the Agricultural, Food and Fisheries sectors with fresh verve to survive the world’s current financial crisis. For these agencies, the responsibility to feed our nation and thereby sustain its very survival for future generations is paramount.

Water forms the foundation for and shapes our daily existence. Without the water that surrounds us – the humidity of the air, the dependability of the sea and the consistent flow from the tap – our lives as an island nation would be severely hampered and development impossible.

In Cabinet, we stand at the cusp of review and acceptance of a number of proposals that exemplify the need to employ new technologies, business practices and greater social responsibility for all the agencies under my care.

It is a very exciting time, as the Barbados Water Authority, for example, is poised for reorganisation and transformation into a more modern utility that keeps pace with the developmental needs of Barbados.

Several entities within communities are seeing the need to become more involved in the development and implementation of ???backyard gardens’ utilising drip irrigation and other irrigation methods that are less water-intensive. It is a fact that our agricultural lands also tap into the island’s underground water supply through wells established to irrigate the landscape. Therefore, the proper use of water and desistance of dependence on harmful pesticides in this sector are also important factors in the overall balance of this precious resource.

While events world-wide are organised on or around this day to increase people’s awareness of water’s importance in environment, agriculture, health and trade, I ask that we do the same here in Barbados. Assume some level of responsibility for your part in efficiently using water and securing the island’s ???food sources’. There are so many advantages that will come from implementing better water use habits and performing acts to protect our food.

The global position is that there are seven billion people worldwide depending on water and needing to be fed, one billion of whom already live in what is termed ???chronic hunger’. Potable water resources continue to be under pressure worldwide. While population growth is a problem for some nations, most struggle with the increasing challenge of encouraging their populace to follow a healthier, nutritious and sustainable diet; reduce food wastage; produce more food of a better nutritional value locally using less water-intensive methods and use their potable resources wisely.

In Barbados, our ultimate goals in regard to "Water and Food Security" at this difficult economic time, should be to save water by employing wiser water use habits, produce enough food for our citizenry, reduce foreign food imports wherever possible while exporting to other markets the excellent products we are becoming known for and keep the economy thriving.

It is incumbent on us all to become well informed stewards of how to achieve the above by simply examining ways that we can and I quote UN Water, as they too celebrate World Water Day this year, ???change our diet and reduce our water footprint‘ on the earth. This challenges each of us to make a change in our diet and lifestyle that simply includes using water more efficiently and eating more locally grown and manufactured foods thereby assisting us in improving our health and helping us better manage our economy and resources at the same time.

Author: Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Mana

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