EDITORIAL: Need for more agricultural research
Barbados should be investing more in the area of agriculture and in agricultural research.
By doing so, the country could help reduce the negative effects of climate change on our local food production levels. A key official in the field of agriculture made this point a few years ago and indeed, such a view still holds weight today.
“The world is now faced with the climate change phenomenon and there are speculations all over of how this phenomenon will impact the world’s production of food. We do not know the full story yet, but signs of its negative effects, especially in the area of drought, is already affecting Barbados and as a vulnerable developing country, we cannot sit idly by as we so often do and wait for scientists and so-called experts in the developed world to research and tell us what we should do to mitigate against its effects, when they themselves are too busy researching how they should fix their own potential problem with respect to this phenomenon,” that official was quoted as saying.
“This is the time that a country like Barbados should be investing more in the area of agriculture and in agricultural research, so that we may be able to reduce the negative effect of this phenomenon on our food production and food security, or even use it to our benefit,” he added.
“Further to this, we need to investigate how the agricultural sector can be used to develop new exportable manufactured products. We need to investigate how to use the agricultural sector to produce bio-fuels that can help to reduce the fuel import bill and in so doing, reduce the cost of energy. We need to investigate how we can use the agricultural sector to produce non-traditional crops,” that key official also suggested.
Now it has been noted that the agricultural sector is a potential catalyst to the sustainable economic growth of the country and as such, on a whole, persons in Barbados need to take it more seriously, whether they are in Government, the private sector or even civil society.
Now we are aware that the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) carries out research and development for agriculture in the Caribbean region; and for over 30 years, CARDI has been steadfast in providing sterling contributions to the growth and development of the agricultural sector of Member Countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). CARDI is charged with a wide range of development activities, in addition to the strengthening of regional collaboration for agricultural research. These include the upgrading of facilities for intra-regional agricultural trade and transport and the evaluation of investment opportunities, as well as the provision of market intelligence. Emphasis is placed on roots and tubers, cereals and pulses, hot peppers, fruits and vegetables, and small ruminants.
That said, we in Barbados need more research to happen on our end, so we can be better assured of our food security and so we can also guide more of our youth into productive areas in the agricultural sector, ensuring that our future looks bright and our economy can survive down the road.