THE EDITOR: The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries recently placed an advertisement in the daily newspapers for the pre-qualification of contractors for infrastructure projects and suppliers for a variety of agriculture goods and services.
I was pleased to see this ad as it is an indication of agriculture works being conducted some time in the near future. And because a healthy and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to any success in developing rural communities, there is some degree of eagerness to see how the works roll out.
But in order to have a healthy and thriving agriculture sector we need to start promoting sustainable agricultural initiatives.
Sustainable agriculture is a term used to describe the production of food, fibre or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare. Put differently, it is a holistic approach to the production of healthy foods which does not compromise the ability for both now and future generations to do the same.
The environmental and social effects of farming in Trinidad have long been unsustainable. The practices of clearing land and the unregulated use of pesticides and fertilizers have resulted in soil erosion, nutrient depletion, exacerbated flooding and the eventual ruin of rural communities for future generations.
It is now imperative that we engage in more sustainable farming methods in order to have a viable agriculture sector in the years ahead. The ministry’s farming initiatives must be geared towards building the capacity of small-scale farmers to implement sustainable farming practices while improving the livelihoods of rural communities and the country’s food security.
There is no doubt there is need for stimulation in the agriculture sector and the improvement of the physical infrastructure needed to support it. However, these works must not be done at the expense of the health, wellness and vibrancy of our rural communities. In the process of developing rural communities we must always strive to protect and conserve the environment and its natural resources.
CRYSTAL ROBERTS, Rio Claro