A new seafood farming plan between Guyana and Barbados could see tourist-dependent countries cutting an expensive import bill, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley has said.
The Prime Minister, while speaking at the opening of a pond catchment in Barbados, highlighted that Caribbean countries spend millions of dollars each year importing frozen seafood to satisfy tourists and Caribbean citizens.
Aside from the hefty bill attached to the imports, she lamented that the seafood is often filled with harmful chemicals which may have long-term health consequences.
But the small eastern Caribbean island is hoping to change that by producing more seafood itself.
“…We will be able to start some farming of shrimp and prawns so that we can not only start to supply the Barbados tourism industry and Barbados households but also those (countries) in the eastern and southern Caribbean who are now importing millions of dollars in frozen shrimp and frozen prawns,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
Once the country is able to secure the larvae, farming can begin in six months’ time, she said.
Barbadian Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir was tasked with working alongside his Guyanese counterpart Zulfikar Mustapha to kickstart this project. And Prime Minister Mottley noted that Guyana is eager to assist.
Before the Guyanese delegation, led by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, departs Barbados on Sunday, they are expected to visit several areas where it may be possible to establish ponds for the seafood production.
This seafood plan is part of the wider Guyana-led focus on increasing food security within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), resultantly cutting the massive US $5 billion annual import bill.
Already, Guyana and Barbados are pursuing several mutually beneficial initiatives. Once those initiatives are successful, President Ali says that the partnership can be a model one that can be emulated across the region.
One key initiative is the creation of a food terminal in Barbados, which should be able to store up to about 40 containers of food.