In the early days of Barbados' prosperity, sugar cane has been an integral aspect of the country's sustenance and development. From the time of Barbados' early settlement by the British in 1625, the island's livelihood came through its agriculture.


Barbados was divided into large plantation lands that were used for the cultivation of tobacco and cotton crops. A switch over to sugar cane came about as a result of competition from some Caribbean islands and North American colonies. The introduction of sugar cane to Barbados' economy proved to be a lucrative move as the economy prospered rapidly and in no time was able to boast of having the second highest density of windmills per square mile in the world.


Despite being deprived of its significance by larger producers of sugar cane, Barbados continued to produce sugar cane well into the 20th century and to this day. The sugar cane crop still plays an essential role in the island's sustainability despite the fact that other aspects such as the tourism industry has outdone the industry.


Diversification of Crops

The island of Barbados is known for many crops, whether commercially grown or grown on a small scale to provide for individual households. The three (3) main crops grown on the island are sugar cane, vegetables and cotton. A simple drive around the island will show evidence of sugar cane crops still in full production.


In the early days, Barbados relied heavily on the exportation of sugar. Today, that export prospect is not as high as it used to be. As such, Barbados has had to import fruit and vegetables from all over the world to supplement seasonal lows and to meet demand for other produce not grown  on the island.


Barbados' High Food Import Bill

There has been a call by various members of Government for all Barbadians to get idle lands across the island back into crop production. This call comes on the heels of the rather high import bill Barbaods has a s a result of a lack of full production of idle lands.


One suggestion made is that Barbados increases its domestic supply of food and align itself in such a way that its produce becomes cheaper and a lot more competitive. Such an alignment would entail backyard gardening on the part of every household. The simple act of households cultivating a small patch in their backyards affords them the opportuntiy to feed their families and collectively puts a dent in the high food import bill that Barbados currently faces.


The Agricultural Sector

The agricultural sector in Barbados is of great significance to the island. The sector plays a fundamental role in safeguarding a required balance of food imports, domestic consumption and foreign exchange earnings.


Barbados has been labelled a water-scarce country due to a lack of natural resources on the island. As a result of this labelling, the Ministry of Agriculture is hoping to facilitate investments in water extraction, recycling and conservation technology, such as harvesting of surface water, sustainable exploitation of groundwater supplies, desalination and the development of wastewater treatment facilities.


Issue of Praedial Larceny

Seen as a major obstacle to the develpoment of agriculture in the Caribbean, praedial larceny has been recognised at the highest level of leadership in Caricom as one of the constraints to the successful implementation of the Regional Transformation Programme for Agriculture.


An amendment to the Praedial Larceny Bill in Barbados has gone to Cabinet and is presently being drafted to go to Parliament where it is hoped that it will be quickly passed.


The nature of this amendment is such that aims to 'up the punishment to crop thieves', in an effort to deter the act of crop theft.


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