A plan by Barbados and Suriname to strengthen ties in agriculture could see animal feed prices falling here.
Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir made the disclosure on Wednesday following a meeting with his Surinamese counterpart Parmanand Sewdien and his contingent, at Pelican Village, The City.
Weir, who was accompanied by other local agriculture officials, said the countries were in the process of renewing the Brokopondo Programme for Cooperation (2018-2021), under which Barbados would grow some of the inputs – which are currently imported – for making feed.
“That is the whole objective – for us to look at other sources or markets for us to access the inputs for the production of feed so that we can see how we can bring the prices down . . . . Coming out of what we can do with Suriname, we are putting ourselves in a position where we can source the grains for feed and help to reduce the cost of producing feed and the retail price for feed to farmers,” he said.
The updated agreement would create a framework for projects such as a Blackbelly sheep expansion initiative, growing crops such as corn and guinea corn, hosting a joint expo showcasing livestock and produce, the development of laboratories, and providing Barbados with assistance in developing sanitary and phytosanitary legislation in pursuit of its goal to export fish to the European Union.
Weir said some local farmers had expressed interest in operating in Suriname and discussion to finalise the arrangements would take place on Thursday when Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali meet in Trinidad and Tobago.
Sewdien said the renewed Brokopondo Programme for Cooperation augured well for the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM’s) goal of reducing food imports to the region by 25 per cent within three years.
He said that target could only be achieved if there was greater trade and private sector participation among member states.
The Surinamese Minister of Agriculture said each state would reap significant benefits.
As it relates to land, Sewdien said about one million hectares were available for agricultural use and the areas for the programme would be identified.