Taking food from the farm to the table will soon be made easier with a project from ARMAG Farms — a venture which Minister of Industry and Small Business, Denis Kellman, believes is just what Barbados needs.
During a tour of the Sunbury, St. Philip farm today, Kellman, who was accompanied by representatives from his ministry, the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation Limited, lauded ARMAG’s project, which will see the processing of various ground provisions, including yam, cassava and sweet potato.
He said: “We cannot just remain at the primary stage; we have to take it to the secondary and tertiary stages. So, I am happy that ARMAG, a company that has been doing some very good work from the time I was in the sugar industry … did not just accept that they should grow sweet potatoes, but they have now moved into the stage of processing.”
Adding that he was certain the BIDC would do “everything in [its] power” to make the project a success, the Industry Minister noted that solving the issue of produce supply and encouraging import substitution were of great concern to the ministry.
Stressing the need for Barbadians to develop a greater appreciation for locally grown produce, Kellman highlighted the fact that similar projects had already been successfully conducted.
“In the 70s, we used to have something called instant yam. This country Barbados has to get back to where it was. We have to get back and use innovation,” he observed.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the BIDC, Michael Bynoe, endorsed this concept, stating “we recognise that Barbados needs new products in terms of the export market”, and offered his agency’s support to the endeavour.
While acknowledging the potential these products could have overseas and in the restaurant and cruise sectors, ARMAG Director, Richard Armstrong, also pointed out how they could benefit busy Barbadians. He explained that the company’s processed produce would allow persons to keep “a mixed platter of locally grown ground provisions” which were prepared and ready to cook.
Armstrong added: “We have done a lot of work on our quality… Gone are the days where we just wait on the rain to fall, stick a slip in the ground and 16 weeks later see what we have. We do a proper cultivation programme, [and] a proper fertilising programme. This has resulted in improved taste and consistent yields on the farm, which produces 100 acres of sweet potato and 15 to 20 acres of cassava a year, with additional crops to be added to the mix.
Revealing that the sweet potato fries had received positive reviews during a recent sampling, Armstrong explained that this would be the initial product to be launched.
“The sweet potato French fry is the one I’m concentrating on getting out first, because that seems to be the one everyone’s excited about… I would say by Christmas [the product] should be readily available,” he promised.