Senator Dr Chelston Brathwaite has suggested that Barbados needs a school for agriculture to provide the necessary expertise to meet the level of agricultural development Barbados is proposing.
He lamented the fact that emphasis appeared not to be placed on such training, noting The University of the West Indies had only produced one Barbadian graduate in agriculture per year between 2015 and 2020, while islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana had such tertiary institutions to train middle level professionals in the agricultural sector.
In his contribution to Senate debate on the Plant Protection Bill 2023 yesterday, Brathwaite said sometimes Barbados forgot that agriculture required skilled, highly-trained technical expertise that is critical to the sector.
“You cannot have an agricultural sector without having highly-trained professionals,” the expert with international agricultural experience said.
In response to Brathwaite’s claim, Deputy President of the Senate Elizabeth Thompson contended there maybe no need for such a tertiary institution at this time in as much as there appeared not to be the level of interest in the field among young Barbadians at the tertiary level.
However, Brathwaite supported the Bill before the Senate.
“You cannot have a modern agricultural sector unless you have the finance, the professionals, the technical expertise, and the legislative framework that makes it possible and to the extent that this Bill provides the legislative framework for modern plant protection systems, it represents in my view, an important advance in modernising agriculture in our country.
“We tend not to recognise the agricultural sector for what it is because to a large extent the colonial legacy that we inherited is a colonial legacy that allowed other people to feed us. We have not depended on farmers in Barbados to provide the food for this nation in the way that many other countries have depended on their farmers, therefore we do not give the importance to agriculture that should be given,” Brathwaite contended.
He that Barbados’ commitment to the international plant protection convention and other international regulations was critical.
“To trade, to participate in the global economy and make our mark and get our products into international markets… we must meet global standards,” Brathwaite said. (GC)