Minister of Agriculture Dean Jonas said that the modern agricultural technology that is being used by the Chinese will greatly assist Antigua and Barbuda in food and nutrition security.
Minister Jonas made the remarks during a tour of the Green Castle Agricultural Station today (Thursday). The Green Castle station is the main experimental unit that is being used by the Chinese in the Agricultural Technology Cooperation Project between Antigua and Barbuda and China , which began in May last year.
According to Minister Jonas, Antigua and Barbuda can be self sufficient in specific food crops and he is grateful to the People’s Republic of China for allowing the Yuan Longping High-Tech Company to share their expertise with the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
Minister Jonas said that the ministry is not only on a drive to improve food security but to play a bigger role in helping to reduce the incidents of Non Communicable Disease (NCDs).
“Antiguans and Barbudans suffer a lot from diabetes, heart problems and excess fats in our bodies, so we are hoping that the use of more locally grown vegetables in our diets will help us to control or get rid of some of these NCDs.’ We tend to order most of our foods from overseas and we don’t know how they are grown so right now, we are trying to grow more locally so that we can be self-sufficient.”
Minister Jonas was part of a high level delegation paying a visit to the green castle facility to see firsthand , the level of crop production that is being undertaken as part of the the agricultural technology cooperation project agreement between Antigua and Barbuda and china, and from all accounts, they were very impressed.
He said that equipment are also being sourced as part the project, which also include equipment to set up a Tissue Culture Lab to propagate the best varieties of crops in Antigua and Barbuda. According to Jonas, this will be a big plus for the country in years to come.
The Agriculture Minister believes that Antigua and Barbuda can achieve food security by the end of this project 3-year project. The Chinese are now completing the experimental stage of this joint initiative and the main beneficiaries of the training component will be the farmers and other technical officers.
The agricultural project is an aid package from China to the tune of close 10 million EC dollars. Antigua and Barbuda supports this project through a number of basic commitments.
The Chinese that are on the experimental farm comprise scientists, engineers and other technicians who provide advice, assistance and training.