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Home-grown tables must come first

It is indeed unusually aggressive of the powers that be, but an admirable expressed planned effort, and worthy of fullBarbadian support.

We are pleased with the announcement that the Government has embarked on the first phase of this ambitious public-private sector project to significantly cut this country’s $1/2 billion annual food import bill. And that simultaneously it could bring as a consequence largely improved local agricultural production for our very own farmers.

The cream on the top, if indeed we can be successful with the project, will be the attendant discouragement and probably elimination of praedial larceny, as has been mooted.

We look forward to see the Government plan, supported by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, putting more wholesome local produce on the tables of consumers and establishing a vibrant and highly productive network of farmers, retailers, processors, food shops and all those other specialists in the food chain.

This is most welcome news after what has appeared as years of what, as we have said before, could only be regarded as half-hearted attempts at control of our food import costs –– in the light of dwindling foreign exchange earnings –– which have finally brought us face to face with the prospects of not being able to sustain this crass extreme importation of food substitutes, the original and more healthy of which could be grown or manufactured here ourselves.

It would be fair to say our political leaders, having been made cognizant of our food import bill dilemma, have finally taken serious steps to pull us out of our food predicament. It is indeed a commendable attempt to correct a situation that was grossly untenable and unsustainable.

As we have been told, the pilot project will operate under the concept of a food zone, which will initially involve stakeholders in St George and St Michael. Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer Dr Dennis Blackman tells us an agricultural survey showed that the districts which supported the food zone idea comprised 526 farmers, with 244 actually located within the designated physical boundaries.

The interest bodes well for our national food stock and security, and we will now have to wait and see how the details of this national scheme are worlked out to the satisfaction of all.

As we undersand it, the designated physical boundary of the St Michael-St George Food Zone stretches from the area of the Emancipation Statute at Haggatt Hall, heading east to the Dash Valley junction and running along districts by the St George Secondary School, The Glebe, Gun Hill, Golden Ridge, Sweet Vale, Market Hill, Lears, Hothersal Turning and back to the Emancipation Statue.

We are satisfied to see some serious engagement of the public’s attention on the priority that ought to given to our food security and substitution of most of the imported meats and vegetables we will now seek to locally raise and grow –– and in a systematic way –– and more abundantly.

Dr Chelston Brathwaite, consultant on food security at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, who is of the strong view that food security must become a matter of national priority must be appreciative. We perhaps can look in the shortest time possible to stop using up our scarce foreign exchange to buy cabbage, lettuce, pumpkin, broccoli and carrots.

It has indeed been a long time in coming, but better late than never in the effort to turn our own sod to full self-sufficiency.

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