Agriculture Minister says local farmers must position themselves to compensate for shortfall in imports

Agriculture Minister Samantha Marshall
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By Carlena Knight

Agriculture Minister Samantha Marshall believes that the farming sector will have to play a pivotal role in addressing the inflation of imported goods.

Just this month, two major business insiders gave a stark warning to residents to expect higher prices of goods during the remaining months of the year.

The caution came amid skyrocketing transportation and warehouse costs and pressured supply chains which are currently being affected by a limited workforce in source markets like Europe and the US.

Although both men believed that there would be a greater increase in prices for luxury items rather than food, there is still some concern being raised by residents who have reported seeing an increase in some food items at the supermarkets.

This dilemma of inflation and limited supply of some goods, Marshall declared, can be addressed with the help of the local cultivation market in conjunction with greater support from supermarkets.

She noted that already there is a minute increase in the amount of local suppliers’ goods on the shelves but according to Marshall this is something that can be improved.

For many years, there has been complaints by farmers who have accused supermarkets of not giving them enough support by buying their produce.

“The struggle continues. It is no easy feat to get over but we are focusing on it because one of the things the hoteliers, restaurants and supermarkets have always hidden behind is the sustainability of the goods,” Marshall said.

To address that issue, a greater focus on hydroponics is being undertaken by the sector.

Marshall said that with greater education under this new system, farmers will be able to have a greater understanding on how to increase productivity with specific crops within a controlled environment.

“In hydroponics, you can have a more controlled system that you can grow year-round. In the normal environment, you cannot necessarily grow year-round and what we are trying to teach more persons is to stay away from just the leafy green for hydroponics. There’s so many different systems of hydroponics,” Marshall added.

Simply put, hydroponics involves soil-less agriculture where the plants are submerged in water and different supplements are added to sustain the life and growth of the plants.

According to researchers, the hydroponics technology works well for Climate Smart Agriculture because of the water conservation and farm integration advantages as well as being a potentially more sustainable method of food production.

 It uses ninety percent less water and soil as compared to traditional agricultural methods of production.

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