Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, examines one of the squash in the Farm Shop. Looking on are CEO of the BADMC, Shawn Tudor and Chairman of the Board of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), Orlando Marville.

Marville: Country must grow more produce

Chairman of the Board of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), Orlando Marville, is concerned that this country is growing and producing far too little of what Barbadians eat. He is therefore adamant that this has to change.

Addressing those gathered yesterday morning for the BADMC’s Crop Value Chain Services – Pack House, Cassava Cultivation Equipment and Farm Shop Annex, at the Fairy Valley Plantation where it is headquartered, Marville lamented that with as much as $800 million used to import food annually, there is a need to bring that figure down to at least $200 million over the next five to ten years. That reduced figure, the BADMC official said, should then be spent only on items that cannot be produced locally. He made the comments as he revealed that the BADMC has been able to come up with a number of new products to help satisfy consumers’ tastes including fish ham, lamb ham, sorbets, cookies, cakes and gluten-free flours.

“I am told that during the two great wars we produced all the food we needed; I believe sweet potato became known as big grain rice. Although we still eat sweet potatoes we grow far too few of them, [and] yams which can be stored without refrigeration for about six months are hard to find. We should also have planted acres and acres of breadfruit. What we could not eat or process could be sold on a very lucrative export market,” he said.

Marville made the point as he contended that to achieve food security, it is also imperative that local farmers grow vegetables such as broccoli and kale, and a variety of fruits, including grapes and strawberries.

“We must eat what we grow and grow what we eat… I should point out that food security is a serious concern for all developed countries; they even subsidise sugar and buy bananas from us at less than we buy apples from them. What happens if our suppliers are faced with drought or scarcity, forcing them to demand higher prices than we now pay? What if there is another major war? We need to be prepared,” he contended.

To achieve that, Marville is adamant that every Barbadian needs to get back to engaging in backyard gardening and the planting of fruit trees around their properties. (JRT)

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