Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, the Honourable Indar Weir.
National agricultural health to be examined
Today’s world is considered a global village and trade has increased in many commodities, including agriculture, across the world. As a result, it is critical for Barbados to examine its agricultural health.
Word of this came from Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, the Honourable Indar Weir, as he delivered the opening remarks during the Fourth Annual Barbados Food Law and Industry Conference, which took place at Accra Beach Hotel and Spa on Wednesday morning.
“The movement of animals, plants and processed foods from one geographical region to another, has resulted in increased risks in diseases and food contamination, which threatens the health of our people and impacts our nation’s public health system,” he said.
“It has therefore become necessary for Barbados, a net food importer and other importing and exporting countries to examine their national agricultural health and food control systems to ensure compliance with the many international agreements, standards and codes of practice in order to mitigate these potential risks.”
Weir noted that modern national food and health control systems are risk-based and embrace a farm-to-fork approach that seeks to ensure the safety and quality of food from production to consumption.
“These systems therefore place the onus on our producers who are entrusted with the primary responsibility for food safety and quality such as farmers, fishers and manufacturers, processers, transporters and vendors, to implement safety systems that guarantee that the food they offer for sale is safe,” he said.
“This is critical if we are to protect the consumers from food borne illnesses which can be fatal and which can contribute to public health burned and medical costs incurred as a result.”
The Minister noted that the agricultural health and food safety system allows for preventative measures at all stages in the food production and distribution chain, rather than only inspection and rejection at the final stage.
In this regard, he revealed and assured that there were several Government regulatory entities in Barbados responsible for auditing the performance of the food production and distribution sectors through inspection, monitoring and surveillant activities; and for enforcing the legal and regulatory requirements to ensure that food producers and retailers implement the necessary requirements to protect consumers’ health.