A change in administration, the same call – the Government, sole importer of chicken wings should cease the “reckless” trade immediately.
Chief Executive Officer James Paul, who was until the May 24 General Election, a two-term Government backbench MP, has again called on the Government to ban itself from importing the wings, claiming a glut is in the offing.
The BAS CEO has made the anti-imports call almost annually while the farmers gear up for the busy Christmas holiday season in a nation that is said to be 90 per cent self-sufficient in poultry production.
Paul was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting today with CARICOM’s trade ministers, the Council of Trade and Economic Development (COTED).
He noted that a rise in wing imports was causing local chicken farmers to suffer financially as supermarket shelves stocked more imported poultry than locally produced parts.
“What we are finding is that [wings are] being imported in such quantities that it is having a negative impact on the amount of chicken that is being sold locally. We made a survey of a number of supermarkets and what we are finding is that space that should be occupied by local chicken is now being occupied by imported chicken,” Paul said.
It was unfair to have a state-run entity have such a negative impact on the livelihood of farmers across the island, he said.
“We cannot have a situation where a state corporation in trying to cover its expenses is doing so at the expense of the same farming community that they are trying to develop,” the farming chief said.
“We also have a situation where the small producers in our country – and those are the persons who grow 500 chicken to 1000 chickens or 1500 chickens – are now having difficulty getting their chickens sold. When we go to that particular level we have to express some concern.
“We have to ask that Government impose some kind of limits on the amount of chicken that is being imported and the chief agency for importing chicken … [Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation].
Farmers, he said, wanted to encourage Government, BADMC, and supermarkets to end the trade in imported chicken wings for the year.
Farmers can cover the poultry needed for the upcoming holiday season, leaving only a minimal need for imported parts, he suggested.
“Right now, we have seen placements of broiler chicks. We can assure consumers that adequate quantities of poultry shall be available for Christmas and the upcoming holidays. So, therefore, we do not have a problem and there is really no need to import which is a minimum number of chicken wings on a monthly basis that basically would honour certain applications.
“But the quantities which are coming in now is certainly causing our poultry producers great concern and we would really like to ask the Government at this point in time, we would like to ask the BADMC, we would like to ask the supermarkets [to stop importing wings].
“Farmers have to pay an increase in water and utilities and they have to pay these things and we cannot have a situation where the base on which they have to pay them is being eroded by the reckless importation of chicken wings which is happening right now,” Paul said.