Barbados’ vulnerability to climate change is real and all Barbadians should understand the impact this could have to food security.
In fact, said Minister of Industry Denis Kellman yesterday, Barbados is one of the most vulnerable states anywhere and continued shifts in weather patterns will create new challenges.
“The scientists have informed us that climate change will affect the four dimensions of food security namely, food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability,” Kellman said.
“They also state that it will have an impact on human health, livelihood assets, food production and food distribution channels. It will also impact purchasing power and market flows.
“A country like Barbados, which is already vulnerable and food insecure, is likely to be the first to be affected by climate change. We are seeing evidence of this in the blurring of the dry and wet seasons where periods of drought have increased and rainfall has intensified over shorter periods. Many crops have been lost to floods in recent times and new patterns of pests and plant diseases have materialised.”
He added: “The challenge facing Barbados at this time is to find a strategy that will allow for the adaptation to climate change. This approach begins with the gathering of information as to what is climate change and how to mitigate its effects.”
Addressing a seminar on food security and climate change yesterday, the minister explained to participants that it was important that all necessary information be gathered to assist in the decision-making process.
Knowledge, Kellman said, “allows for the devising of innovative methodologies and the building of resilience”, which are necessary in confronting challenges.
The St. Lucy MP, who is also responsible for the Rural Development Commission, added: “Barbados is forced to manage an imported food bill of over $500 million annually. Concern about climate change and its impact presents a unique opportunity for Barbados to modernise its agricultural sector and this opportunity should not be missed.
“The needed adaptation expands the potential for agro industries and the development of bio sciences. In other words, it allows for the creation of synergies between the industrial and agricultural sector and the university.” (RRM)