Barbados is now one step closer to taking a big chunk out of its almost $700 million food import bill.
This was signalled yesterday evening with the launch of the Farmer’s Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED), when Prime Minister Mia Mottley again raised concerns about the eating habits of Barbadians.
Acknowledging the presence of almost her entire Cabinet at the event held at the picturesque Sunbury Plantation Great House in St Philip, the Prime Minister said it was extremely important for the country to reduce its mammoth food import bill.
In her brief featured address, she said for this to occur there also needed to be a change in the way people ate.
“We need to reduce the amount of foreign exchange that this country spends and we cannot afford to have a food import bill of $685 million to be precise for 2018, of which vegetables and fruits account for just under 10 per cent at $66 million roughly.
“It is simply not good enough and Barbadians can do better if we pull together and work together…,” Mottley told the gathering.
“But that’s not the only part of it. The second part of it is that we need to change how people eat and I think we all know that how we eat determines how we feed our bodies.”
PM Mottley said she was not satisfied with the progress pointing out that even with much healthier options available to them, most Barbadians were still choosing to consume unhealty foods.
“There are too many people eating English potato chips on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in this country. There are too many people who can eat baked sweet potato instead or can eat eddoes or eddoe chips.
“There are so many things that we can do and it hurts my heart to see that we are not making sufficient progress family by family, individual by individual…,” Mottley pointed out.
While pledging Government’s commitment and support to the initiative, she said the time had come for Barbadians to take control of their health as a healthy country would translate into a wealthy country.
“We believe we have the elements to make that change and it is up to the rest of Barbados to join us on this journey. Let this now be the mission of a country to take control of its health, take control of its prosperity and take control of its economic ability at the same time and in so doing make a better society and a stronger people by giving them options,” she said.
The FEED is a three-year programme conceptualised by Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security which focusses on boosting primary agricultural production through the combination of traditional and contemporary farming methods. Among its objectives is to facilitating improved access to land and increasing foreign exchange earnings from agricultural exports.