Chandler: Grow more local foods and push agro-business development (Barbados)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management’s efforts to encourage Barbadians to grow more local foods are picking up pace.

This view was expressed by Chief Agricultural Officer, Lennox Chandler, as he addressed a recently held field day on local medicinal plants at the Ministry’s Graeme Hall, Christ Church compound.

One of these efforts, he revealed, is the Ministry’s proposed Barbados Food Planting Initiative.

“We have almost completed a manual that will guide every Barbadian on how they can establish their own kitchen gardens. We are going to be putting that booklet out in hard copy, as well as in soft copy on the Internet,” the Chief Agricultural Officer stated.

Chandler also renewed his call for Barbadians to return to kitchen gardening and “take charge of what we eat”. He said that this is not only critical to ensuring food security and reducing the high food import bill, but also food sovereignty, which meant having control over how our food is grown, produced and consumed.

He also made a fresh appeal for people to change their perceptions about agriculture, contending that the major problem facing the sector was that it was often undervalued. However, he pointed out this problem was not limited to Barbados.

“For example, in Argentina, people are saying that agriculture contributes [to the economy] 4.6 per cent, but researchers have shown that the actual contribution is 32.2 per cent. In Brazil they argue 4.3 per cent but the actual figure is 26.2 per cent. [In] Jamaica 6 per cent, the actual figure is 12 per cent,” Chandler noted.

In the face of this, the Chief Agricultural Officer suggested that progress could be made through focusing on developing cottage industries, which are small businesses operated from a person’s home, noting that they could be commercialised.

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