National Food Security Plans Becoming Critical
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resource Lawrence S. ‘Larry’ Cartwright has laid out his vision for national food security.
He warned that food security initiatives “are becoming more and more critical for us as the global threat of rising food prices continues unabated.”
Mr. Cartwright was a guest speaker at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s accountability seminar, Friday.
Headquartered in Costa Rica, IICA is a specialized agency of the Inter-American System for the promotion of agriculture and rural well-being.
It comprises 34 countries and has been in The Bahamas since 1998. Dr Marikis N. Alvarez is IICA’s representative in The Bahamas.
The seminar also heard from Alfredo Valerio of IICA’s Miami office. He is a specialist in regional operations and information systems.
The way forward for agriculture in The Bahamas topped the agenda.
“The agricultural sector is preparing itself to embark on a new phase of activity where food security and food safety are two of the important points of focus,” said Mr. Cartwright, the Member of Parliament for Long Island and the Ragged Islands.
And, in a health-conscious era where consumers are concerned about how and where food is produced, “the need to develop food safety strategies has become a pressing priority for us,” Mr. Cartwright said.
In accordance with its five-year development plan, the Ministry of Agriculture is moving forward to ensure that “every effort is made to cultivate the thousands of acres of land throughout the country that have been identified as suitable for agriculture.
“We regard it as an imperative of national development that we implement programmes for the sustainable production of sheep and goats to supply the national market with affordable protein sources.”
In order to guarantee food security it is urgent that initiatives to produce basic food crops such as potatoes, peas, corn and citrus are pursued, he said.
The country must also expand its capacity to process farm produce so as to reduce post-harvest losses and extend the time over which various products can be offered for consumption, said the Minister.
Too, the Ministry of Agriculture wants to improve the country’s marketing system so that the maximum incomes can be generated from farm production; and ensure that the highest quality products reach consumers at competitive prices.
“It is in this context, that the Bahamas IICA Office has been providing technical assistance in a range of areas in the agricultural sector and will be called upon in the up-coming year to continue this vital function,” Mr. Cartwright said.
By Gladstone Thurston
Bahamas Information Services