Poultry farmers are in need of urgent help to save their livelihoods, vice president of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA) Stephen Layne said.
And he is calling on authorities to take immediate action to stem the poultry imports that are putting a dent in local farmers’ business.
“The industry at this point in time is suffering because of the high import of chicken wings and turkey wings into the country,” Layne said at a recent press conference, adding that while the industry had seen growth of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent over a five-year period, the importation of chicken parts had been eroding the gains.
To demonstrate his point, Layne said one farmer had to drop his production from 1,000 to 300 birds per week but still could not get them sold.
He warned that if the trend continued, “we could have a looming food security issue”.
“We cannot even secure the expected consumption of chicken for Christmas because of the uncertainty of the market,” the BEPPA official stated.
“We take the role of security and making sure we have adequate supplies in a very serious way. Therefore, we plan every stage of production that we can satisfy the needs of the country . . . If the local poultry industry did not reach its commitment to this country in terms of providing fresh poultry at Christmas, you would get severe criticism of the industry, but the industry is not being placed in a position that [we] can plan production.”
Layne said even the recent Crop Over Festival proved not to be the “payday” farmers had anticipated. He charged that “there was a lot of consumption of chicken but certainly not Barbadian chicken at those major events”.