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Agro census coming

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Agro census coming

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?AN AGRICULTURE CENSUS is to be undertaken as a matter of urgency, while the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) will be bringing hundreds of acres of land back into food production.
These plans were outlined yesterday by Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick in the House of Assembly during debate of the 2011-12 Government Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
Estwick said the census  was needed to help plan for growth and development of the agriculture sector, including the proposed multi-purpose sugar factory.
The census will also give a breakdown on the acreage of arable and non-arable land, he pointed out.
 “. . . I would also want to suggest that many other areas of diversification of the agriculture sector and in particular redevelopment of the sugar industry hinge very crucially on the information that comes out of that new agriculture census, and the reason for this is because the quantity of sugar cane that has to be planted,” he told parliamentarians.
“We have to be sure that we have the available acreage now so that we can plan our future growth and development of the proposed multi-purpose sugar factory.
“And .  . . we have to be clear in our mind the type of acreage that we have now lying idle in Barbados that is not in any sort of production that we may very well have to bring back into operation so as to make that project work in the way that we would want it to,” he added.
Economic output
 Looking at land use policy in general, Estwick added that the present Physical Development Plan and the Town and Country Planning Order in many ways did not take into consideration a number of essential factors when one tried to determine whether a piece of land should be changed from agricultural or other usage.
The minister said: “The economic output of a  piece of land can no longer be defined strictly on the agriculture output on that piece of land.
“It must be defined by what other activities that can be brought to that land that can create an economic value and help to develop this country.”
According to the minister, the concept of a class as defined in the Physical Development Plan should be revisited to take into consideration a number of social and economic factors, the environmental and, more importantly, the prevailing economic circumstances of the country.
Estwick said that trade liberalisation had significantly affected the  agriculture sector in terms of preferences, locally and overseas.
He pointed out that in the circumstances “the BADMC is charged with enhancing its production of food crops in this country . . . and the charge comes for the BADMC to bring an additional 300 acres of its lands back into the production of food in Barbados.”
He pointed to the island’s massive food import bill which is in excess of $600 million. (ES)