Wednesday, 21 August 2013

C’bean should embrace technology

THE yields from some of the vegetable crops grown in the Caribbean region are much lower than what has been achieved in other countries around the world, such as Brazil and Mexico.

According to Professor Chandra Madramootoo, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the McGill University, Quebec, Canada, the countries of the Caribbean should look to embrace technology to improve these yields.

He explained that the lack of research and development and by extension the inadequate use of technology is counted among the vulnerabilities of the Caribbean region in its quest to achieve food security.

With that in mind, he said embracing new initiatives would help to cut down on the region’s food imports, which have been rapidly rising above the exports. He made the remarks while in Barbados recently to speak at a seminar on the topic of “Global Food Security Implications for the Caribbean”.

“We are not keeping up with the technology investments and new germplasms, improved practices, cropping practices, fertiliser practices – there is a big accomplishment that can be made just by dealing with technology,” he said.

Turning his attention to exports from the Caribbean, he noted that there is only a narrow band of the crops exported from the region, adding that the Caribbean mirrors what is seen globally in terms of the percentage contribution of agriculture to the gross domestic product (GDP).

“Every single country in the region has witnessed a decline, and in some countries a sharp decline, of the contribution of agriculture to GDP… We need to keep reiterating this message and I am pleased that the Minister of Agriculture recognises that we need to reinvest in production, R&D [and] training to bring those contributions of agriculture to GDP higher if we want to address that food import bill that we have seen,” the professor said.

Referring to some of the products being imported, the Canada-based educator said that the Caribbean region is in “very bad shape” in terms of the commodities being brought in and consumed. He noted that in almost every case there has been an increase in the consumption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils, while there has been a decrease in the consumption of fruits and vegetables. He said that this has been responsible for the rising trends of obesity among females  as compared to males. (JRT)

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