Find Agriculture expertise in Barbados
Agriculture together with forestry and fisheries contributes 2% of Barbados’s GDP (2010). Agricultural land accounts for 44.19% of total land area and supports around 10% of the total workforce (2010). Historically, most arable land was taken up by sugarcane, but increasingly a higher proportion has been devoted to ground crops for local consumption. The development of other agricultural activity has been constrained by inadequate rainfall and lack of irrigation. Despite this, the country has seen the growth of some vegetable farming on a commercial scale. Major food crops include yams, sweet potatoes, corn, eddoes, cassava and several varieties of beans. The majority of vegetables produced are sold in local markets.
Sugarcane has traditionally been the backbone of the Barbadian economy, although this has altered with increasing diversification. Despite facing serious troubles throughout the 1980s and 1990s the sugar industry survived, although it continues under threat. In 2010 exports of raw sugar generated $9,647,000. Most of the sugarcane over the 1990s and 2000s was destined for the European Union, although the United States also received a smaller quota. There are additionally over 15 cotton farms around the island, largely in the drier parts. Efforts are under way to revive the success of Sea Island cotton, which is known for its long and silky fibre properties. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development formulates and develops agricultural policies and programmes in the country.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) placed Barbados 30th in the world (out of 144 countries) in terms of its balanced agricultural policy costs, with a value of 4.4 out of 7, above the world mean of 3.9. This placed it just above regional counterpart Jamaica with a value of 4.3 (34th).
The country has placed a renewed emphasis on securing a greater level of self-sufficiency, in order to counter rising global food prices. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to promote an agri-business approach to farming, particularly focusing on the effective use of resources. They also emphasise the need to adopt appropriate technology and sound management practices in order to achieve internationally competitive production, processing and marketing enterprises.
The state aims to focus on investing in the agriculture sector and promoting links between the industry and other sectors, such as tourism, manufacturing and energy. Additionally, it hopes to continue to revive and develop the sugar cane industry.