Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, gives the ‘thumbs up’ to the new sugarcane harvester following the donation of equipment this morning. Looking on are Ambassador of China to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng and Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Phillips. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) Ltd today received a shot in the arm with the addition of a new sugarcane harvester.

A gift from the Chinese province of Hunan, it was donated by Zoomlion Heavy Industry Sciences and Technology Company Ltd., the largest manufacturer of heavy equipment in China, and the sixth largest in the world.

Describing the harvester as “timely”, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, said it exemplifies the robust relationship between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China, which dates back to May 30, 1977, when the countries’ diplomatic relations were established.

The display of the cane harvester at BAMC’s headquarters in Warrens, St. Michael, was also marked by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Agricultural Cooperation between Barbados and the Hunan Province.

The ceremony was witnessed by Ambassador of China to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng; representatives of the Ministry and the BAMC and video linked to China for participation by the Deputy Secretary of CPC, Hunan Provincial Committee, Ms. Wu Lan.

Minister Weir, in acknowledging the areas of cooperation between the two countries, said these included exchanges of training opportunities, academic scholarships, medical staff deployment, and infrastructural projects, such as the Hope Agricultural Training Institute in St. Lucy and the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. 

Providing the background to the donation, the Minister said that it resulted from a tour here, in 2020, by Zoomlion officials, who undertook a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the BAMC, following a visit to their farms.  

“This kind of gesture is consistent with the tenets of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21stt Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, commonly referred to as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir; Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Phillips; Ambassador of China to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng; and officials examine the new sugarcane harvester which was donated today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“The initiative stresses the importance of connectivity through the building of new roads, ports, airports, railroads and telecommunication links and other facilities for closer cooperation across Asia and Europe with over US $100 billion in financing,” he stated, adding that Barbados became a signatory to the BRI in February 2019, and continues to benefit through the exchange of goods, personnel, technology and capital.

The Agriculture Minister also assured Ambassador Yan and the Chinese delegation that the cane harvester would be productively utilised, coming as it did “at a very critical stage in Barbados’ economic transformation, especially as efforts are ongoing to strategically transform the sugar industry”.

In his remarks, Ambassador Yan noted that the harvester came at “a very opportune time”, and marked the beginning of the two countries’ cooperation in the field of agriculture.  He expressed the hope that Barbados would have “a very good profit” during this year’s harvesting.

The Ambassador also expressed pleasure at the province’s earlier donation of personal protective equipment to the island, and said the “solid friendship” between China and Barbados could be seen in the will of the two countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Ms. Wu Lan stressed that the MOU would further deepen bilateral exchanges and cooperation. Adding that Hunan was also advancing agricultural development, she pointed out that Zoomlion was in the forefront of business in China and was driving innovation there.

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