The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) is reporting that dairy production has been on the rebound so far this year, despite challenges posed by low rainfall.
“The figures for this year show that production has been more each month this year than for the corresponding month last year. Up to August 2015, production of milk was recorded at 2.5 million kilogrammes and production at the end of 2015 is expected to exceed the all-time low recorded for 2014 of 3.7 million kilogrammes,” reported CEO James Paul.
“Projections indicate that the milk market is returning to normality with demand expected to increase over the coming months and it is expected that tourism arrivals will be one of the major factors driving demand.”
However, addressing the BAS’ Annual General Assembly over the weekend, Paul said farmers might be forced to consider importing in-calf heifers in order to increase their milk production in the short term to meet consumer demand.
He revealed that pork production was also showing signs of growth, with slaughter figures being above those recorded for last year.
According to the BAS CEO, overall numbers of animals slaughtered are keeping pace with last year’s figures. However, the category of pigs has shown an overall increase.
“As at August 2015, the number of animals slaughtered has been recorded at 7,643 compared to 7,518 last year.
“As we approach the Christmas season, the number of animals can be expected to increase and one can anticipate an overall increase in the amount of pork produced during the year,” Paul reported.
The poultry industry is also on the rebound, Paul stated.
“Production of birds this year has reached record levels and it is likely that this growth will not be retarded in view of the number of birds being placed. For the first time ever, one million broiler chicks have been placed in a single month and production has increased for every month this year over last year.
“It is anticipated that at the end of 2015, the industry will produce close to 10 million birds for the first time in its history,” Paul said.
But while animal production is on the increase, fruit and vegetable production has been impacted by the low rainfall recorded so far this year, especially in areas without irrigation services.
“The uncertainty which exists over the rainy season has made farmers in areas without irrigation reluctant to plant because they cannot be guaranteed that even during the rainy season, there would be consistent rain,” Paul told the meeting.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart welcomed news of increased production in the agriculture sector.
He reminded BAS members that while agriculture may not be a preferred career choice for many young people, it is still important to the growth and development of the country, noting its contribution to the island’s foreign exchange.
“For as long, therefore, as people are interested in ensuring that food is planted in Barbados and the land is cultivated for that purpose, for as long as we have people in this country who are committed to the rearing of livestock, to the pursuit of fishing, for our collective survival, agriculture will continue to be important,” Stuart said.
He pointed to developed countries that still maintain agriculture at the heart of their development – a sector he said “they guard very jealously and make sure that very often, whenever they can, circumvent all the globally agreed upon rules to protect their agriculture sector.”
“They impose on us rules that they insist we observe, while they observe those same rules in the breach because as far as they are concerned, agriculture is central to what they’re doing,” Stuart added.
Stuart also gave the assurance that Government will continue to support the sector to ensure its continued growth.