Pondering Caribbean Agriculture’s Future

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - July 6, 2011

Above: Bahamian IICA representative Dr Markis Alvarez visits the Bahamas last month (BIS Photo/Gladstone Thurston)

Given the growth prospects of agriculture and an abundance of plant-friendly weather, why doesn’t the Caribbean as a region invest more in the industry?

That is the question on the mind of Dr Chelston Brathwaite, director of agriculture at the University of the West Indies St Augustine and Director Emeritus of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA).

Delivering the keynote address at the 47th annual Caribbean Food Crops Society Meeting in Bridgetown yesterday, Brathwaite said there was far less spending in the Caribbean on agriculture than, for example, in Latin America, with a $3.5 billion food-import bill that is a “scandal,” he said.

“When I look at the Caribbean scenario,” he said, “it seems the sector that has the greatest potential for growth and the saving of foreign exchange, not generating but saving foreign exchange. We do not in vest in that…because in this little country [Barbados] we spend $500 million importing food.”

Brathwaite’s remarks followed a series of agricultural initiatives across the region, from a drive to encourage gardening to projects promoting agriculture in schools.

–Barbados Information Service

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