Stabroek News

Food terminal awaiting approval from Barbados Town and Country Planning

- By Daid Papannah

The proposed BarbadosGu­yana Food Terminal is currently awaiting approval from the Town and Country Planning of Barbados, according to that country’s Minister of Agricultur­e and Food Security Indar Weir.

The project, which has generated considerab­le interest, is poised to become a critical hub for food production and distributi­on between the two countries and beyond. And Weir expressed optimism last night that the project will receive the necessary greenlight by next month, pending approval from the relevant authoritie­s.

The proposed food terminal aims to enhance food security and promote sustainabl­e agricultur­e practices, while also boosting economic growth in the region. When it comes on stream, the project should provide boosts to both the Barbadian and Guyanese economies, while also contributi­ng to regional food security efforts. The Caribbean region has set a target to slash 25% of its imported food supplies by 2025.

Constructi­on of the food terminal, based on its design, is expected to take between six months to a year. Weir told Stabroek News that once approval is given, they would move ahead with breaking ground. Simultaneo­usly, he indicated, his government is currently working to close a deal with two private sector investors, who have signalled interest in the project.

Asked whether the constructi­on of the terminal would be funded by Guyana or Barbados, Weir said private sector investment was the preferred option. While he could not release the names of the investors, he said they were nationals of the Caribbean Community (Caricom). It is expected that a Memorandum of Understand­ing (MoU) will soon be signed with the investors.

“The Barbados and Guyana government­s will… make sure that it is operated, that it is set up, that we can have the throughput in terms of supplies of agricultur­al produce, to be able to keep it up… then export to Caricom and make it profitable,” Weir said, providing clarity on the roles the government­s will play.

He explained that the “facility will have a space for the dicing and packing for the distributi­on of fresh produce…. In addition, it will have the commercial package facility so that the supermarke­ts… restaurant­s can buy in commercial quantities, which is really an exciting place to be.

“We are also looking at storage facilities that can give us longer storage so that we can release produce on the market when there are shortages and keep the price down or not allow for prices to skyrocket.

“The purpose of a food terminal is not just for the sake of having a terminal to move food, but it’s also to address issues in terms of avoiding shortages, which really is the main focus of the terminal… Give the consumer a fair chance at getting commoditie­s at a reasonable price and then allowing us to be able to get into exports, utilising the capacity that we have.”

The Barbadian minister explained that once supplies are constant and the local market is satisfied they will be able to branch into exporting commoditie­s to Europe, the USA and Latin America.

Under the agreement, Guyana will supply the food terminal with fresh produce cultivated in Region Nine and from neighbouri­ng Brazil. This is a necessary means to ensure produce is consistent­ly supplied.

“And that is what is most attractive to investors; the fact that you will have consistenc­y of supply and at the same time you will be able to allow farmers to get into contract and thus making sure they are able to stay in business as well. This is a win-win for all,” Weir added.

Last year, Barbados and Guyana were tagged with the key responsibi­lity for the setting up of a regional food terminal, which is expected to function as a fallback facility to help respond to food security emergencie­s in the region.

On the sidelines of the 2022 Barbados Agricultur­e Food Processing Festival, President Irfaan Ali and his delegation visited the location earmarked for the Guyana/Barbados Food Terminal at Lears, St Michael.

The terminal, according to a brief posted on the President’s Facebook page, will be constructe­d on seven acres of land. It will boast a multi-purpose facility to accommodat­e about 45 containers, cold storage, and packaging and processing plants.

There will also be a large reservoir for water storage and land set aside for crop production.

Barbados’s Chief Agricultur­al Officer Keeley Holder, while addressing the island’s Lower House during the debate on the 2023-24 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditur­e, was quoted as saying that the creation of the food terminal will both provide new opportunit­ies for trade between the two countries as well as increase the agro-processing

capabiliti­es available to the island’s farming sector.

She was quoted as saying that it, “opens up the opportunit­y for greater agro-processing above and beyond what we would be able to do in Barbados.” She reportedly pointed out that meaningful involvemen­t in the agro-processing sector required that the

potential investor has access to “affordable and abundant supplies of raw materials, a critical point for the manufactur­ing sector.”

Aside from the Caricom member country’s role in the Regional Food Terminal, Holder reportedly disclosed that discussion­s were underway

between the Barbados’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry and “major farming stakeholde­rs” which are expected to lead to the implementa­tion of a programme aimed at increasing the packhouse facilities for food storage on the island.

 ?? ?? President Irfaan Ali and PM Mia Mottley visiting the site of the regional Food Security Terminal last May
President Irfaan Ali and PM Mia Mottley visiting the site of the regional Food Security Terminal last May
 ?? ?? The site identified at Lears Barbados for the regional Food Security Terminal (Office of the President Photo)
The site identified at Lears Barbados for the regional Food Security Terminal (Office of the President Photo)

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