Monday, April 22, 2024

Barbados’ shrimp industry coming on stream in April

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Barbados aims to have its own shrimp farming industry up and running by April.

That was the announcement from Senator Dr Shantal Munro Knight during discussion on the Animal Health and Veterinary Public Health Bill 2022 – which was eventually passed – in Wednesday’s sitting of The Senate

Munro-Knight said that the Government announced back in 2021 that it would be undertaking the islandwide project, which started in St Philip, in order to be able to produce shrimp.

“Currently we consume almost two kilograms of (shrimp) per capita annually, all of which is imported,” she said. “This year the aim is to see the fruits of the Government’s investment into that project which will see Barbados produce local shrimp in a project that will be replicated in communities across the island in an effort to reduce a BDS $30 million import bill.”

Munro-Knight added that efforts like these were practical steps being taken by the Government to fundamentally change the agricultural sector.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with an international manufacturing company to process and package for domestic and international export. This, along with other interventions in the area, will ensure that Barbados can address the issue of food security by ensuring we are able to produce critical food where we can by scale and then be able to boost our exports.”

She believes by having this legislation introduced which will show compliance with international standards and help Barbados to enter into international markets.

Senator Dr Chelston Brathwaite was aligned with the aims of the Bill but said it must be acknowledged that the agriculture sector was grossly underfunded. “Most countries in the Caribbean only spend one or two per cent of their national budget on agriculture yet we speak of the importance of the sector and how it can diversify our economy to reduce our dependence on tourism. The developed countries will never stop subsidising it because they understand its importance to development. Agriculture is not about agriculture. It is about development.”

He stressed that if the sector was neglected in the future, Barbados would be neglecting its future.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Public Health Act 2023 would make provision for:

  • (a) the establishment of the Veterinary Authority as the competent authority for the regulation of terrestrial and aquatic animal health in Barbados;
  • (b) the prevention of the introduction and spread of animal and zoonotic diseases in Barbados;
  • (c) the control of the movement of animals, animal products and animal- related items into, out of and within Barbados in order to safeguard animal health and veterinary public health;
  • (d) the control of veterinary medicinal products;
  • (e) the implementation of animal health and animal welfare standards in accordance with the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) standards contained in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code and the Aquatic Animal Health Code; and
  • (f) for related matters. (JC)

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