Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Terry Bascombe, has lauded the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) for its “vital” role in the development of the sector in Barbados and the region.
He was delivering remarks at a ceremony to mark the institute’s 45th anniversary, held last Thursday, on the Ministry’s grounds at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.
Bascombe, who was speaking on behalf of Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, said the research conducted by CARDI was critical, given the increasing threats of climate change on small island developing states, as well as the growing demand for increased food production.
“With threats always on the horizon, for example, those related to climate change, pests and diseases, the collection of accurate data is even more important as it serves as a prerequisite for proper planning and the development of policy,” he stated, while disclosing that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Statistics Canada were on island to assist with the improvement of data collection and analysis.
He added: “Research outputs seek not only to increase investment in agriculture and improve the livelihood of farmers, but the average consumer also benefits through greater availability of local, healthy and nutritious foods.”
It was against this background that he highlighted the successful efforts of the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute in Barbados, including: the development of drought tolerant crop varieties, such as sweet potato and hot peppers, and forage for livestock feed.
Additionally, it has helped to build capacity in the local coconut industry through the recently concluded Coconut Project, which was funded by the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Secretariat and implemented through the Ministry and the International Trade Centre.
Bascombe also commended CARDI on its tree planting exercise, which saw the students of Vauxhall Primary School assisting with the planting of 45 fruit trees on land allocated to the institution by the ministry.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of trees in reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming…. We are playing our part in helping to mitigate climate change, but we’re also providing much needed fresh, local, nutritious fruit which will also enhance our food security, reduce foreign exchange spent on imports and lead to a healthier Barbados,” he said, adding that the exercise tied into Government’s Million Trees for 2020 Project.
Meanwhile, CARDI’s Representative to Barbados, Ansari Hosein, noted that part of the institute’s objective was to emphasize the importance of agriculture and agricultural research to economic development and improved livelihoods.
“Agricultural development and improved productivity hold the key to overcoming some challenges presently facing the region. Foremost among them, food and nutrition security, climate change, chronic non-communicable diseases and an ever increasing food import bill,” he said, noting that CARDI has contributed significantly to the development of a sustainable agricultural sector within the region.