Christmas may be more than three months away, but the assurance has already been given that there will be enough chicken, pork, ham and turkey to satisfy the cravings of Barbadians.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul today told reporters that the poultry industry was doing quite well and he did not foresee any challenges leading up to the Yuletide season.
“There is no reason why we should anticipate a problem as it comes to poultry production at the moment. A lot of the difficulties which some farmers were experiencing have been resolved. At the moment we can safely say that the industry is not experiencing any problems and we should be able to meet the demand anticipated as we go into Christmas,” Paul said while speaking at a press conference this morning at the BAS’s Grotto, St Michael headquarters.
The CEO also gave an update on the recent controversy surrounding a fast food outlet, which tried to import a container full of poultry while owing local farmers close to $2 million.
Paul said while he could not confirm whether or not the debt had been repaid, he was monitoring the situation closely.
“They are trying to work down the debt according to the cash flow that they have available. But what I would say is that we are monitoring the situation very carefully. Historically, a lot of businesses have shown a willingness to work with those buyers who may have financial difficulty, but you have to do that in good faith.
“You can’t have a situation which existed then, where the person who you are working with seeks to undermine you at the same time,” Paul insisted.
However, he said local farmers have continued to service that particular fast food establishment.
While he has guaranteed sufficient chicken, Paul announced a shortage in onions, complaining that the 100 acres of land being used to plant the vegetable was “not acceptable for the market.”
“By and large Barbados is capable of producing 100 per cent of its total onion demand in this country. In truth and in fact, the total demand for onions in Barbados really does not exceed more than around 600,000 kilogrammes, even on an annual basis.
“We are quite capable of producing that amount, now if you add in for the other things then you are talking about 2.2 million kilogrammes, and even then we can actually make that production target,” he emphasized.
“The issue is that at the moment we only produce 100 acres of onions which is really unacceptable for the market at the moment.”
Paul however made a call for retailers and farmers to work closer together in an effort to forge stronger ties.
He said once farmers were assured they would have buyers, onion production was sure to increase.
“What we need to see is that the large retail operators in this country have a much more closer working relationship with the farmers that we have in this country, to encourage them to think that if they produce a particular product, they can actually get a market for that product from the linkages that exist.
“At the moment, retailers have a closer linkage with wholesale suppliers in Miami, or in some cases in Canada and in the UK, than in Barbados and that in itself is unfortunate,” Paul maintained. (RB)