Technology is the way forward for future sustainability and opportunities for growth in the agricultural sector.
This is the view of Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir. He was speaking at a town hall meeting entitled Technology – Making Agriculture Work For Barbados, on Wednesday, hosted by the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers (BAPE) at the Combermere School, Waterford, St Michael.
He asserted that the future viability and opportunities to be gained in agriculture must include the use of technology.
“When I look at agriculture today…we have done particularly well in terms of where we have come from and where we have reached today…where we’re transitioning the sugar cane industry, a great degree of what is going to happen will be driven by the use of technology,” Minister Weir stated.
He said as Minister of Agriculture he could not focus alone on the sugar cane industry, but also the poultry and dairy industries, as well as produce, and to this end, he must address agriculture’s greatest threat – climate change.
Minister Weir noted that the effects of climate change on agriculture are wide ranging and varying, including loss of crops, increased temperature and droughts which could affect crop production and yields, as well as the increase of insects and pests. Therefore, he said Barbados must look to climate smart agriculture where Barbados effectively develops and ensures food security by incorporating the use of technology.
“We must seek to use technology or be technology driven, but at the same time create opportunities for business people in Barbados and new opportunities for our young people,” Minister Weir stated, and proposed mitigating the effects of climate change on agriculture by retrofitting buildings, using mobile apps and green house tunnels.
Minister Weir concluded: “However you look at it, you cannot transition agriculture in Barbados without the use of technology…but we can never get away from traditional agriculture.”
President of the BAPE, Lt. Col. Trevor Browne stressed: “If supply and demand were the critical factors in the success of a business, then Agriculture should be the world’s most flourishing enterprise. While we can choose not to travel; not to buy luxury items…the 7.7 billion people, who constitute this world’s population, have no choice but to eat…therefore we must find a way to make agriculture work for Barbados.”