“EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK: Get idle lands on deck”

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Next time you are driving on the ABC Highway coming from The Belle towards the Clyde Walcott Roundabout at Hothersal Turning, St Michael, take a look at the large section of “wild bush” on the left.

If you drive a few metres past the roundabout, look in the area below where the dwarf breadfruit trees are planted. It’s yet another eyesore of what appears to be acres of land growing more “wild bush”.

This disgrace of good fertile land uncultivated is very evident across the entire Scotland District in St Lucy, St John, St Philip, Christ Church and even St George.

So despite the plea from James Paul of the Barbados Agricultural Society, all the talk from Mark Sealy, of the Barbados Sugar Industry Ltd, Dr Frances Chandler and the the sugar technologists and scientists, and even the plea from the people who want to farm but have no land, the story is the same. Too much idle lands all across Barbados.

We continue to treat agriculture as a second class sector in Barbados.

Yet, it is evident this country needs more investment in small-scale, sustainable agriculture.

With economic uncertainty hanging over the country, farming (including fishing and aquaculture) must play a critical role in ensuring sustainable food security, boosting income for families, saving foreign exchange and providing healthy lifestyles.

The Barbados Government must not be bullied by international agencies into not providing grants, subsidies and loans to those in the agricultural sector. It must also encourage those in the hotels, restaurants and even the cruise ship sector – especially given that several ships home port here – to use local, healthy food items. Government should ensure small farmers have access to tractor services to start things rolling.

Admittedly, we must look at pricing, packaging and promotion.

Being a farmer is not what it used to be 50 or more years ago, and with its various specialised areas, is undoubtedly amongst the most important occupations today. Those in authority must make it at least appear to be so. (ES)