Minister underscores the importance of food security

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St. George MP Dean Jonas

“Food security is a matter of national importance since it determines the health and productivity of each nation’s human resources. “

Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Hon. Dean Jonas emphasized this point during his presentation on the Budget Debate last evening (Tues) in Parliament.

Minister Jonas was adamant that when high priority is placed on food and nutrition security, it will give rise to disposable income and employment opportunities.  

“For those of us in emerging economies, we must therefore seek to modernize agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security and profitability for farmers with the goal of significantly increasing agricultural productivity.”

According to the Agriculture Minister, policies and interventions must be developed to ensure that farmers and fisherfolk earn higher incomes.

He added that reforms that encompass the full agricultural value chain and create additional businesses and job opportunities in the areas of storage, transport, processing, packaging and marketing of agricultural produce must be actively embraced.

Minister Jonas pointed out that Agricultural development should not be considered optional, it should be considered mandatory.

“We must treat with the stark reality that our level of food importation is akin to a chronic economic disorder which requires immediate treatment to avoid a slow and inevitable death. The data should be released with the same urgency as a public health alert; the response should be rapid, production goals set, and funding realigned to address the matter of food security.”

In order to be the driver of the development of the agriculture sector in Antigua and Barbuda, Minister Jonas identified a number of significant points which include reducing the food import bill by expanding local production of key commodities which are significant foreign exchange users.

He emphasized that farmers must become competitive in the production and supply of selected commodities for target markets and effectively compete against imported products.

According to Minister Jonas, a Marketing Study/Plan conducted by an FAO Consultant should be completed within a few weeks and the document maps the way forward to a renewed and revitalized agriculture sector, which will improve production on a structured level, thus reducing the country’s food import bill.

The Average Annual Food Import Bill (2010-2017) = EC$245 million (US$91 million).

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Antigua needs to start growing more of its own food, i.e. vegetables and fruits. Antigua also needs to do more fishing from natural waters, without importing fish.

    Antigua is turning into a very obese and unhealthy country – we need to stop eating so much rice, sugar, soda, and candies. We need to eat more vegetables and fruits – natural organic stuff.

  2. One of the biggest mistake made under the Lester Bird era was when most of the good/rich agriculture lands were sold for housing. This is the effect it has on our country now. We have to import most of our farming food crops from the neighboring Caribbean islands and even countries farther a field.

  3. After 40+ years of agricultural neglect in favour of air conditioned offices your expecting people to run back into sun, sweat, dirt and long hard hours?.. 😂😂

  4. I have been expressing the fact, that many, many years ago, when I was a school girl….Antigua was exporting our famous Pineapples; and now, we are forced to import! We are blessed to have excellent soil for agriculture, and we MUST use this opportunity, to regain our place in the Export Market! Antigua grows a wide variety of excellent products, which are exportable; and we MUST rush to enjoy this viable market!

    A very important aspect, to strengthen this development; is the security of ‘water storage’, which is not being done! Very often, the farmers complain about the lack of water on their farms! Antigua enjoys fairly good rain falls…and the precious water, runs to waste! I have been saying to some folks, that EVERY farm should have a dam….and i think I dare add…it MUST be compulsory!
    In my humble opinion, I think the farmers can purchase the damaged galvanize, if that is their best option…. or the most practical item, and build the roofing…with the relevant spouting, to secure this amount of thousands of gallons…of our precious water….running to waste! I go further…with the best intention…and prayer for the improved agricultural prosperity, of our lovely island, to say….that it should be COMPULSORY…. for EVERY FARM…to have a dam!

    I think the Ministry of Agriculture, should RUSH to secure a GRANT…to facilitate this very IMPORTANT program! Also of importance, we should have a Food Manufacturing Complex, to train our citizens, in the development of products from our wonderful crops; and take our rightful place… both in our local and Export Markets! I do believe, this could also be an excellent opportunity, to take those youths off the streets…who have’given up on life’!
    “Together we aspire, together we achieve” (8-Feb-2019)

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