The proposal to establish a Barbados National Farming Association is getting the full support of a Government senator.
Senator Lorenzo Harewood told the Upper Chamber on Tuesday that the suggestion for a new representative body was one of the ideas coming out of a recent meeting he had with local farmers which was convened to discuss issues including praedial larceny, accessing water at more reasonable rates and garnering more support for the sector.
“I will support that initiative any day of this year or any other year and I say that, not to scoff at already established institutions like the BAS, but there is a perception over the years for a lack of better understanding by some, that the BAS in the past might have been seen as an institution that went to the newspaper whenever someone imported coconut water from Guyana; that only went to the media when someone imported chicken wings, but never really focused on building the capacity of the farmers in Barbados and many farmers stood on the side and watched it in dismay,” Senator Harewood said.
He said stakeholders in the agricultural sector are not as united as they ought to be and that he came to this conclusion after his meeting with farmers.
The senator was speaking in the Chamber on the Protection of Agricultural Products Bill, 2022 when he suggested that the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) has not always been seen to be fulfilling its role as the representative of the farming community.
“They (farmers) asked why am I subscribing to an entity that does not take my particular input concerns to heart, but rather only wants to posture, only wants to represent, only wants to grab the eyes of the media when they are importing from other countries and unfortunately, other countries within this region that form a significant part of our regional food security push.”
Senator Harewood added: “One thing that came out of that discussion – and I spoke to them and let them know that I would be representing here today – what I told them is that the agriculture sector in Barbados is not as together as many persons would perceive it to be and as many persons would present it to be,” Senator Harewood said during the debate.
“And at the core of this security framework that we are building here has to be a greater level of collaboration, not only between the agricultural sector and the police, but amongst the agricultural community.”
He said the suggestion for the new farming association was one of the positives of the meeting.
Harewood also expressed his delight that farmers were also interested in setting up their own warehouse and sourcing their own agro chemicals.
He agreed that farmers also had a role to play with respect to the security of their own crops. (RB)