Efforts are under way to further develop the cassava industry in Barbados.
Deputy Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. Denis Blackman, made this disclosure during a recent two-day tour of a number of small farms and agro-processing plants, across the island.
Blackman said that the ministry had a number of plans in place to produce a variety of healthy products which could replace some imported starches.
“Cassava has unique qualities. First, it is a gluten free product. There are people who really cannot tolerate gluten. Cassava also does not break down quickly to produce sugar, so it’s a very healthy product and it’s a product which would be useful for people who are suffering with diabetes and similar conditions… Cassava can also be used to replace corn in animal feed,” he noted.
The deputy director of crops said that more farmers were coming on board with cassava production and that there were approximately 100 acres of land on the island dedicated to cassava production. He noted that the Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Cooperation was in the process of expanding its processing plant to produce products from cassava.
“The BADMC has started to produce flour and other products and this is beneficial because we have to make sure that we get the value added side going in cassava production because we do not want to have a bottle neck in the industry,” he added.
Barbados recently joined Clayuca, an organisation dedicated to assisting Latin American and Caribbean countries with cassava production.
Executive Director of Clayuca, Bernardo Ospina, who was also on the tour, explained that his organisation helped countries with technology, provided training for farmers and technocrats people in the cassava industry and also assisted in finding more competitive ways to produce and manage the cassava industry.
During the tour, Blackman, Ospina and a number of ministry officials visited small farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Tissue Culture Lab, and the BADMC plant at Seawell among others.