The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is committed to increasing agriculture to 5% of it’s GDP, creating opportunities for youth and women farmers to profitably engage in agriculture in identified areas and becoming self-sufficient in certain crops.
Addressing the 41st Session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, Italy, the Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Agrculture Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs Dean Jonas told the international gathering that at the moment agriculture represents less than one percent of the GDP of Antigua and Barbuda.
“The oceans are central to sustainable development globally but particularly so for small island developing states. Antigua and Barbuda has a combined land mass of 440 km2 and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 107,914 km2. We are now focusing attention on the requirements for developing sustainable and resilient ocean-based blue economies in a region where the ocean economy is estimated to generate revenues of US$407 billion. This figure is equivalent to 14 to 27% of the estimated value of the global ocean economy,” mr jonas said.
During his address, the Antigua and Barbuda government minister also indicated that one area that his Government is promoting, is the development of a sustainable fish farming industry in Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are importing over US$1 million of tilapia fish alone yet the opportunity exists to significantly reduce this importation by producing and packaging this fish locally. With targeted investment, we can transform this into an area which meets local demand but also produces fish for export,” jonas noted.
The Minister of Agriculture also told the Rome Meeting that the impact of natural disasters and climate change pose the greatest threat to developing Antigua and Barbuda’s agricultural and maritime economies.