Crop theft has taken a big bite out of Barbados’ vegetable production.
A new government report has identified praedial larceny as the chief reason for a near 12 per cent drop in the growth of major crops including lettuce (65.8 per cent decline), sweet peppers (down 44.3 per cent), cucumbers (28.9 per cent decline), and okra (15.5 per cent decline) last year.
And the 2012 Barbados Economic And Social Report said the drop was despite increased production of major vegetable crops and a 14 per cent drop in imported vegetables.
“Overall vegetable production showed a significant decline of 499.5 thousand kilogrammes or 11.9 per cent for the year 2012 when compared with the year 2011,” the report said. “This decline was registered despite significant increases in the production of carrots, cabbage, melons, pumpkins and tomatoes.
The reduction in vegetable production which occurred was due mainly to praedial larceny which has become a deterrent for local farmers to engage in vegetable production.
“Declines in production were recorded for lettuce, which fell by 65.8 per cent or by approximately 328, 400 thousand kilogrammes. Significant declines were also recorded for sweet peppers and beets with decreases of 44.3 per cent or by approximately 139, 300 kilogrammes and 40.4 per cent or 19, 600 kilogrammes respectively when compared with figures for the previous year.
“Other decreases in production were also recorded for cucumbers, hot peppers, string beans and okras with production levels falling by 28.9, 21.8, 16.2 and 15.5 per cent respectively,” it added.
The government report also pointed out, however, that “there was a significant increase in production of carrots by 67.8 per cent or 98, 800 kilogrammes”.
“Other commodities showing increased production during the period under review were..melons by 24.5 per cent or 38, 200 kilogrammes, tomatoes by 27.1 per cent or 220, 400 kilogrammes, and cabbage by 18.9 per cent or 49, 500 kilogrammes. Pumpkin production also increased by 13 per cent or 21, 600 kilogrammes over 2010 production levels,” it noted.
Unlike previous years the decrease in local vegetable production could not be blamed on increased access to the imported “fresh” variety, as the analysis pointed out that this too declined.
“Fresh vegetable imports into the island registered an overall decline of 14 per net during 2012. This occurred despite significant declines in production of some commodities,” officials noted.
“The largest decline was registered for string beans. However this figure is insignificant given the small volumes imported of this commodity. Declines were recorded for nine of the 12 commodities being monitored (beans, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, melons, hot pepper, sweet pepper, pumpkin, and tomato).”
On the other hand root crop production increased by 61.2 per cent, mainly peanuts and eddoes.(SC)