PM touts new land, water initiatives to boost farming

Prime Minister Mia Mottley has announced new initiatives to provide land and water to farmers as she reaffirmed Government’s commitment to building food and nutrition security.

She reinforced the point on Friday during the Central Bank’s October Caribbean Economic Forum, which was held under the theme, From Inequality and Vulnerability to Prosperity for All.

Mottley announced that a major water catchment is to be built and that a land lease project would soon be launched to boost farming.

She said: “We are also trying to provide access to water and we have spent millions of dollars across the country now looking to build a  catchment area for water that the farmers can draw from. We are about to launch the Lears Land Lease Allotment programme for 165 farmers from as small as 5,000 square feet to as large as two acres.”

She said her administration was committed to ensuring that training opportunities, capital and land are available to the farming community.

“Unless we have those three combined with the use of technology we are not going to see more young people get involved in agriculture,” she said.

“It is not just about food security, it is about nutrition security. So we really do need to infuse a high degree of training as well. In our own case here in Barbados we have started the FEED [Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive] programme and I keep making the point that in order for us to see change we need scale, so that the FEED programme is targeting over 1,200 farmers. These are people some of whom have never been into farming before.”

The FEED programme is aimed at increasing the island’s food production in an effort to help reduce the food import bill.

While the Caribbean Community had agreed to a reduction of about 25 per cent in its food import bill by 2025, Mottley declared “we will need to advance that in a far greater way”.

Mottley said her administration continued to look for ways to beef up Barbadian agriculture.
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