Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
by Michael Ray
“Agriculture is a fundamental source of national prosperity” – James Jay Mapes (1806-1866) American-born agricultural chemist, inventor and educator.
There has been yet another call for “transforming agriculture”. There is no gainsaying that a serious and concerted effort to revive our agricultural sector must be a top priority for our national economic planners and other relevant stakeholders, if Barbados is to be protected against any future external shocks.
First and foremost, may I suggest yet one more time that Barbados diverts into organic aloe vera production based on the following information.
According to Access Wire, headquartered in Raleigh North Carolina US, a provider of national and international news including industry trends, there is a calculated compound annual growth rate of 7.8 per cent by value and a 7.3 per cent by volume for the aloe vera industry worldwide until the year 2027.
Improved standards of living and strong inclination towards organic supplements are factors responsible for an increase in the gel segment of the global market.
Increased awareness of health benefits and the desire to look beautiful and attractive are directly responsible for growth of the aloe vera industry worldwide.
On the basis of end-use, the skin-care segment of the industry is expected to hold the highest market share of 44.4 per cent.
The aloe vera industry is well segmented as reflected in the food, medicinal, skin care and other health-care industries.
Barbados is a water-scarce island.
It is incumbent on the government of the day to ensure that overseas missions be multifaceted and not be focused solely on diplomacy and international relations but be proactive trade missions to enable and facilitate the exportation of locally produced goods and services, agricultural or otherwise.
Closely aligned to agriculture must be the establishment of plants responsible for the processing, packaging and preserving of agricultural produce for both local consumption and exportation.
Government and the private sector will have to sit down in the not too distant future and devise plans and strategies for agriculture and agro-processing.
The days of simply importing, placing markups on produce and selling must come to an end or be significantly reduced in some form or fashion.
The private sector must rise to the occasion and invest in local agro-processing that can provide a sustainable platform for the creation of a diversified economy, the further creation of jobs and wealth within what is familiarly known as the cycle of economic activity.
It cannot be business as usual, but a new way of thinking and doing in order to place country Barbados on a higher plane towards a viable and lasting economic pathway.