The opening of Browne’s Pond Catchment in River Plantation is yet another transformative move for the island in moving towards food security.
During an opening ceremony of the catchment in River, St Philip, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that with Barbados being one of the 15 most water scarce countries in the world the opening of the pond was critical for “people to be able to feed themselves.”
“This government has chosen to spend millions of dollars. When finished it might come to over $80 million over the course of two years in trying to provide water to farmers. Because this is what transformation must look like in agriculture,” she said
The Prime Minister added that the costs of such projects should be seen as a means of creating secure food options.
“If we are to put agriculture back on a sustainable path, if we are to feed ourselves, if we are to grow what we eat we have to be able to make these decisions to overcome these obstacles that are constraining our farmers,” Mottley added.
President of Guyana Irfaan Ali, who was in attendance along with other delegates from Guyana, called the move “transformative” with the ability to “reduce risks”.
“This is not a project about today alone because if we want to build out an agricultural sector that ensures food security and sustainability I want to say that that long vision must be transformative.
“This is an investment for 10 years and 20 years from now to ensure sustainability and I want to say that long vision must be transformative. I think this project is a transformative project for this community because it secures livelihood, it enhances livelihood and gives the farmers a shot at sustainable farming,” he said.
He reminded that with one of the highest costs of agriculture being drainage and irrigation, the Browne’s Pond Catchment is a very “key investment”.
“You have to be proud of what the government is doing to enhance your livelihood. That is why I made the point that sometimes we do ourselves a great injustice because we say we are small but when we look at what we do in a qualitative way, we can match any other country because we made the commitment through investment,” he added.
The President said that “another big benefit” of the project is reducing the conflict of the competing use of water, which he said is a major concern globally.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security Indar Weir during his address reconfirmed that his ministry is seeking to make good on all promises within its “big agenda”
“With the amount of NCD’s that we are confronted with in Barbados, it is important that when we address food security that we address nutrition as well and that is why the agenda is so large in agriculture,” he said.
Weir said that it’s important that food is not only provided but rather foods which are healthy for locals and tourists alike.
“What we have to do now is to make sure that food is provided for every citizen of this country. Those who visit here and those who are students in our universities. It is important that we not only provide food for those who are here in Barbados but that we provide healthy food,” he said.
CARICOM is moving to reduce the food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
The target was set in 2018 and the construction of the Browne’s Pond Catchment is a move to assist in that process (MR)