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WITH A POPULATION of about 300 000 souls and a total land space of about 105 600 acres we need to maximise the quantum of food produced.
We are aware that the peoples’ taste for food has changed over the years, mainly due to increased income and physiographic factors.
This in itself has been attributable to clever marketing and advertising and a plethora of fast food outlets, selling in most instances non-nutritious foods. The competition is so intense that if you see one, the other is within 200 metres.
Barbados imports $700 million of food annually, but yet we have the paradox of thousands of acres of fallow land.
The skewness of the land tenure situation is mainly responsible, but to add insult to injury, most of these lands are not under agricultural production. Measures have to be taken to remedy this situation. We need to free up some of this land for agricultural purposes.
This can be achieved through small model farms cultivated by young people armed with the technology of the 21st century. Agriculture does not have to be a backbreaking exercise like the type which our forefathers had to perform. It is also not an armchair exercise. Government can use moral suasion, as a measure to resuscitate agriculture.
Although farming is a precarious occupation with praedial larceny, diseases and other pests there must be factors which can arrest these scourges. Stiff penalties must be introduced to deal with praedial larcenists.
Agriculture is a science and we need to apply the science into this means of food production. Agriculture is the world’s first industry, not prostitution. The Netherlands is a first world country, of approximately 12 000 square miles, yet it is a colossus in cut flowers, dairy products and other agricultural products.
We are at mercy of the world for our food supply. Bajans are not as passionate about partisan politics as they would be to see empty retail outlets which supply their food. Measures need to be put in place to improve the situation.
In the interim we who have a little space should make use of it. Anything grown can save us some money and prevent us from queueing up at supermarkets. Surplus can be given to our neighbours. The big countries are now talking about “urban farms”i.e. growing crops in the big cities like London, New York et al.
It could be moving the earth to please, this time grow food for local consumption.
– PHILLIP HUNTE