Hon. Arthur Nibbs remarks
In order to achieve food and nutrition security and sovereignty, sustained development of the Agriculture Sector must rely ,to a great extent, on the efficient application of innovations at all levels of the value chain. These innovations can sometimes be from indigenous sources and some are generated through research and development activities in the laboratories and fields. However, a significant amount of resources is required to establish and maintain a dynamic and viable information system. Unfortunately, in the Caribbean, we do not allocate enough funds in this direction.
A lot of good Agricultural work has been conducted in the Caribbean by Ministries, Institutions and private agencies, but we have not been able to document, publish or apply the results sufficiently, and as such a lot of information remains on the shelves of cupboards only to be infrequently “dusted out” and recycled when some consultant is employed to do a study. Indeed many studies have been repeated several times over rather than being upgraded eg. more information on Antigua Black pineapple can be found outside of Antigua rather than at home.
Timely and accurate information is also pivotal to the formulation of policy and legislation, the development of programs and projects and the implementation of activities “on the ground” when it comes to the management of the Agriculture sector. Throughout the years the generation, validation, documentation, storage, retrieval, repackaging and timely dissemination of agricultural information has posed many challenges to agricultural practitioners at all levels.
The establishment of the Agriculture website represents a major forward step towards the solution of this challenge. It would provide an attractive blend of information technologies and agricultural science in an effort to modernize agriculture in Antigua and Barbuda. Results of activities such as the Barbuda peanut project and the Soil Fertility Mapping project will be posted on this digital platform and will be easily accessible to users through the various devices for sensitization and education. Users would also be able to stay up to date with news about all matters pertaining to the national agricultural issues and events.
The site should not be seen as a “fashionable thing” but a structured vehicle that will be utilized appropriately to facilitate the achievement of the goals of the Ministry through the seamless provision of credible and regularly updated information, data and statistics through cutting edge technologies.
The website can be an innovative way to market local initiatives such as the “eat local” campaign thus contributing to the reduction of imports.
The website therefore will benefit its users to the extent of the quality, appropriateness and currency of the content and, as such, the onus is on now those responsible for site management and governance for generating and consistently updating the various pages of information.