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sector Agri still viable


sector Agri still viable

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Message from James Paul, chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, to mark Agrofest 2019. THE EVENT THIS YEAR is being held at a period of great economic uncertainty and great challenges to the country, demanding much from its people.

It is a time when we have come face to face with the realities of our existence and the fact that we must, as a nation, earn our way in the world.

In this setting, agriculture is being called upon to contribute to the economy in a very tangible way in order to secure our future. The call is coming after years of neglect of the agricultural sector and where successive governments have adopted what can only be described as patronising attitudes to agricultural development.

This will not be reversed in any hurry; however, the fact that the sector continues to survive and make more than a significant contribution to the economy is testimony to the fact that agriculturalists/farmers are resilient.

The sector is testimony to the innovative nature of our people and it is expected that Agrofest this year will demonstrate the innovation within the sector.

This innovation must, however, be rewarded, and our theme this year, Full We Pockets, Eat Local, is very appropriate.

Farmers continue to labour and sacrifice to feed our nation and constitute a critical ingredient to achieve genuine food security.

Agrofest respects the diversity in the agricultural sector and in the presentation of exhibits, seeks to show how complex and varied agriculture can be. Hence it is reflecting the many revenue earning opportunities that exist in the sector.

Therefore, let us not be so mundane as to take the theme on its words only, but appreciate the myriad possibilities which exist in the sector to create viable economic opportunities for Barbadians.

I am sure many of us can cite instances where as a result of a particular agricultural pursuit, a family has been able to feed, clothe and educate itself; such are the exciting possibilities that exist. Hence, the theme Full We Pockets, Eat Local describes what is becoming absolutely necessary.

In this regard it means that we must engage in changing behaviours to more adequately support local agricultural and connected businesses through our patronage.

Barbados and Barbadians can face the current challenges through deliberate efforts to provide greater support to the agricultural sector.

In addition, every attempt must be made to create new linkages with other sectors and to strengthen existing partnerships.

In this way, greater economic activity will be generated among the local private sector that benefits our economy.

An added benefit is that less foreign exchange is required to facilitate transactions involving the trade in local agricultural products than if the product is imported.

In addition, more employment opportunities are created which are so badly needed in our economy at this time.

Finally, the opportunities being offered to young Barbadians to create new opportunities in business through agriculture cannot be ignored.

It is time that we seek to ensure that ordinary Barbadians are put on a more stable economic footing; a career in the agricultural sector can do just that. The only thing left to be said is Full We Pockets, Eat Local.