EDITORIAL - Waste not, want not
THE point is made in our Business magazine today that amid the difficulties in the local economy in 2020, Non-Sugar Agriculture was one of the bright spots. The report points to the 3.7 per cent expansion that was recorded for at least the half year when compared to a year earlier.
This represents a credible performance when it is considered that agriculture continues to face major hurdles as Barbados tries to aim for food security and all the other positives which the country can secure from a robust agricultural sector.
What is also of some significance about this performance which we hope will be maintained is that at last the sector shows positive developments which Barbados will want to showcase when it joins with the rest of the world this Friday, October 16, in observing Word Food Day. For the record, World Food Day was conceptualised and promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to highlight the significance of agriculture among FAO member states and to push them to keep the sector alive and supporting the work of the farming community.
Non sugar agriculture as we know it, entails such activities as the production of vegetables and food crops; fish catch; milk production; and chicken production. At one point in the past the cut flower industry was also a vibrant aspect of the sector and still is although not to the extent of previous years.
The report on the sector’s output so far in 2020 shows that fish catch in Barbados increased for the first time in about two years. There was higher output in respect of food crops and vegetables, as well as chicken production. However, milk production was down.
It is recognised that the production of food crops and vegetables would have stemmed from the deliberate policy to give the sector a boost with the onset of the economic slowdown the island has been experiencing over the course of the last couple years, and the COVID 19 pandemic.
With the increasing number of individuals who lost their jobs in the public and private sectors due to the austere economic policies, many of them have turned to agriculture as a means of survival. Every available piece of land is being taken up for cultivation, including some lands on an abandoned plantation in St. John.
Many Barbadians have also turned to back yard gardening most of it for subsistence reasons and others who have invested in some areas of agriculture.
It is quite noticeable as well that across Barbados and especially in the main commercial areas vendors can be found offering a wide range of fresh agricultural produce. This had become so significant that consumers have been responding with interest, and this augurs well for the sector.
The FAO has characterised food security as the means through which people have access to a variety of food supplies at reasonable prices and that those same supplies meet the dietary and other requirements of consumers.
It is therefore hoped that the gains recorded earlier in the year will continue notwithstanding the drought in the early months of 2020 and the excess rainfall the country is getting at this time. This is the base from which to launch a greater increase in food production. Let us not waste it.