Agriculture Minister Haynesley Benn is calling on the Caribbean to invest more in their respective agricultural sectors, in order to bring about the transformation and diversification needed to give the industry a much needed boost.

He was speaking this morning at the launch of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report, 2009, at the United Nations House.

The Minister lamented that although "we have put the policies in place, and we have outlined the constraints to development in the Jagdeo Initiative, the region has still come forward with too few resources, much too slowly".

He further noted that growth in agriculture was often the keystone for overall economic growth in most developing countries, thus contributing to increased employment opportunities and helping to eradicate poverty in rural districts.?? Minister Benn also pointed out that "agriculture can also play a critical role in earning and saving foreign exchange, not to mention contributing to food security".

He said: "While we in Barbados are not as privileged as some of our other neighbours who may have access to wide expanses of land and other natural resources which may spur investment into the agricultural sector, we have, however, been able to attract foreign direct investment in some areas, such as tourism and manufacturing."

The Agriculture Minister further added: "There has been a general decline in investment into the agricultural sector over the years.?? As a result, the region as a whole has seen technology and extension services practically wither away, with drainage and irrigation systems not being well maintained, while the global challenges facing our agricultural exports demand a change of emphasis in the agricultural sector."

He charged: "The increased debt challenges in some of our countries demand greater attention to saving and generating foreign exchange, while the food security and health challenges require attention to food availability and food accessibility; all of these challenges call for increased investment in our agricultural sectors."??The Report, which has as its theme: "Transnational Corporations, Agriculture Production and Development" is the 19th in the series of Investment Reports published by UNCTAD, since 1991. It is aimed at providing an in-depth analysis of global and regional trends in Foreign Direct Investment as it relates to economic development.

UNCTAD’s, 2009 edition analyses the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on investment flows into the agricultural sector.

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