|In spite of these economic indicators, the weight of the contribution of agricultural activity must be measured in its significant contribution to employment of approximately 5,000 persons, including female producers, food security and social welfare, that supports the current Human Development Index (HDI) rank of 55. The continued development of the food, agriculture and natural resources sector is critical to maintain and improve the HDI, as well as contribute to economic growth.|
Such development will be guided by a renewed Vision that promotes agriculture as ‘‘a vibrant and dynamic sector, driven by small and medium-scaled commercially oriented competitive agro-business enterprises, guaranteeing food security nationally, while capitalizing on niche markets externally, with high quality products, produced by environmentally conscious farmers and agro-processors’’.
Explicit in this renewed Vision of agriculture is the need to ensure increased food security; diversified agriculture markets; enhanced producer competitiveness; increased purchase and consumption of locally produce and products; sustainable natural resource utilization, environmentally sound production practices; the multi-sectoral integration of agriculture policy; increased rural economic growth and development; increased value added produce transformation and increased contribution by the agriculture sector to foreign exchange earnings. The need to strengthen agriculture and tourism sector linkages, through, inter alia, incentives for hotels in purchasing relationships with local producers, a cruise tourism policy to include locally produce commodity and product purveying and an eco-tourism strategy, is being considered for high priority.
The development challenges to the food, agriculture and natural resources system in Antigua and Barbuda can be categorized as macro-economics, natural resources and the environment, commodity production and marketing, agro-industry and institutional issues. These are no different from other CARICOM states and coincidence of the Antigua and Barbuda policy goals with regional and hemispheric initiatives provides some a guarantee of support on the regional and hemispheric front. Indeed, opportunities exist within same five areas, for Antigua and Barbuda to benefit from the regional, hemispheric and international and partnerships with the OECS, through its Agriculture Plan, the CARICOM led Jagdeo Initiative, the Caribbean Fisheries Regional Mechanism (CRFM), the UN FAO-led National Medium Term Investment Profiles (NMTIP), the Summit of the Americas Agriculture Agenda 2015 and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially Goals 1, 3, 7 and Goals 8.