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Not practical!

Agriculture executive, James Paul, rebutted suggestions that

Barbadians should cultivate lands in Guyana to supplement this

island’s production and ensure Bajans feed themselves.

“We cannot assume that it is easy just to go to Guyana,

or Barbadian farmers going to Guyana and make a living. It

is just not something that is practical,” Paul told Barbados

TODAY in an invited comment.

The President of the Barbados Agricultural Society was

responding to a report in the January 9 Barbados TODAY

edition in which UWI senior lecturer in political science,

Dr George Belle, stated that Barbados does not have enough

land to feed a growing population already exceeding a quarter

of a million, and the way forward is to have the island’s farmers

cultivate lands in Guyana for Barbadians.

“That is an idea which is not practical . . . . At the end of

the day it is growing in another country and it does not belong

to Barbados,” Paul said earlier today.

“All I’m saying is the beneficiaries of such commercial

undertaking will not be Barbados, it will be Guyana. And you

still have to find the foreign

exchange in order to basically

get the crops over here.”

The Member of Parliament

for St Michael-West Central,

continued, “That is not helping

Barbados. What will help

Barbados is if we were able to

produce the commodity here,

provide employment to our

people, maintain our lands in

the best possible condition.

It would have an impact

in providing more healthy

nutrition for people in this

country too.”

Further, he said there

are challenges in relocating

Barbadian farmers to suitable

lands in Guyana.

“I guess for someone who is not integrally involved in the

technical challenges when it comes to agriculture, it might seem

like a simple solution to go to Guyana and cultivate. But one of

the issues that you have to face, even in Guyana, is that not all

the soils in Guyana are suitable for cultivation.”

He said that the best lands for agriculture in Guyana are

already under cultivation, and the idea of Barbadians going

there for farming was attempted before, “but when they got

down there, it is not what we imagine it to be, and that is one

of the challenges”.

He contended that Barbados will be better off managing and

working its land properly.

“In this regard we have a lot of land in this country which is

just lying fallow, and which needs to be cultivated.

“I know this may sound hard to believe, Barbados has

enough land to provide itself with certain crops, 100 percent.

And certain commodities that we currently import, that we do

not need to import we can actually grow in Barbados.”

Paul pointed out agriculture should not be looked at as

a single activity, but one that generates spinoffs into other

production and services.

“We are looking to seek employment opportunities for

Barbadians living here in agriculture – and the employment

opportunities are there,” he said, and added, “We seem to

think sometimes that the only beneficiaries of agriculture are

the people who are directly employed, but what we don’t seem

to understand is that there are a whole set of services which

are vital to agricultural operations in which people are also

employed. The multiplier effect on the economy is that much

greater when doing this in your own domestic location.”

He argued that instead of looking afar for Barbados’ food

supply, there is homework to be done to maximise

production here.

“I think at this point in time therefore, it is important to try

first of all to put the current lands that we have lying idle

into production.”

He said another important consideration for Barbados is

identifying other crops, currently imported, that we can grow

in this country.

“We have land space that is available that can actually use

for the cultivation of crops. That cultivation in itself would

provide employment to Barbadians and actually help to feed

Barbadians better.” (GA)

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