“LET’S EAT WHAT we grow” will not just be the theme for Agrofest 2023, but a clarion cry of its organiser, the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), Chief Executive Officer James Paul has declared.
The need for the country to grow its own food is even more urgent in light of various food security threats, Paul said, including the war in Ukraine which has contributed to steep price hikes for food, feed and fuel.
During the pandemic, Barbadian farmers were able to supply fresh fruits and vegetables, but he said: “This is not the time to let go of that success as we are coming on to the end of the pandemic. We need to support local farmers and protect local food security.”
Agrofest 2023, set for the weekend of February 24-26 in Queen’s Park has to be part of a wider campaign for Barbadians to appreciate the benefits of eating food grown right here at home, the BAS leader stressed.
In the nation’s oldest farming organisation’s latest bid to boost homegrown crop and livestock production, Paul hinted at the introduction of the Boer goat to the country at the annual farm show.
While the BAS is committed to doing its part in teaching and helping Bajans eat local, he urged Government, businesses and civic organisations to play a critical role in helping to feed ourselves.
“By producing food locally we generate more economic activity because farmers buy materials and services which they need to produce, that is why private support is critical and they have an important role to play.”James Paul
This year’s Agrofest faced a number of challenges, including a shift from the traditional February date to May owing to the pandemic.
“There was an element of uncertainty holding the event at that time of the year, there was a drop in participation because some of the usual stakeholders off-guard,” he explained.
“That said, we were still able to attract new sponsors and though we were forced to scale down the event exhibitors and vendors actually still saw benefits. We also tried to include some of the events that patrons look forward to. Overall it was a success and we are really looking forward to 2023.”
The BAS intends to build on its progress with renewable energy which Paul said lends to the agriculture’s efficiency and competitiveness.
He said activities planned for next year include the introduction of the Boer goat to the show and to the island.
The Boer or Boerbok is a South African breed of meat goat that was selectively bred in the Eastern Cape region for about a century for its ability to survive grazing on the region’s thorny grasslands and for its meat quality. It has been exported to many countries where it has been bred with other local breeds to improve the quality of meat.