Feed tourists local foods, says PM
PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart has urged hotels to feed tourists local foodstuff as he warned of dangers inherent in a massive food import bill.
Contributing to debate on the Government’s Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for 2014/15 in the House of Assembly yesterday, Stuart said that “rather than introduce visitors to what we produce here”, the hotel sector tended to “incline them to relive their own onshore experiences offshore here in Barbados by giving them the same food”.
He told parliamentarians: “I think we can do better than that and I look forward to a greater synergy between the agricultural sector and the tourism sector for the benefit, not only of the farmers of Barbados, but also for the enrichment of our tourism product as well.”
Stuart said it was “positively dangerous for the people of any country to mortgage their palates to foreign producers of food; you are at your safest when most of what you produce you are able to consume”.
According to him, “every encouragement must be given to the agricultural sector” to make sure Barbados could reduce its food import bill and “that we can be more responsible for our upkeep as a nation”.
He said it was “dangerous to be more interested in creating jobs elsewhere by food producers, rather than being interested in creating them here”.
It was not going to be an answer to the challenges faced by the country “by talking about things locally produced are too expensive”, he remarked.
Stuart admitted that “production costs tend to be a little high in Barbados”, saying that was reflected in the kind of prices being paid for locally produced food.
“We pay for it in local currency,” he pointed out. “When we have to pay for imports, we pay for them in foreign currency. There should be every incentive to push our agricultural sector, push local food production and Barbadians should be committed to buying local and supporting their own rather than supporting people whom they do not know and who are really not interested in their own agenda.” (TY)