The volume of pork being imported into Barbados could be putting those in the local industry out of business.
And the head of the local representative body, the Barbados Agriculture Society (BAS), wants action by Government and consumers to put an end to the pork importation.
Chief Executive Officer of the BAS James Paul wants authorities to reconsider how they grant import licences and for consumers to send a strong message by boycotting the imported meat.
Speaking during a media conference on Friday, Paul said several pig farmers have been complaining that there have been “large amounts of imported pork” and this was putting their business at a disadvantage.
He insisted that the farmers were already producing enough of a high-quality product for the local market.
Local farmers produce roughly 1.5 million kilograms of pork per year, while Barbados imports around one million kilograms.
However, Paul told members of the media that due to an increase in imports in recent months, which were cheaper because of subsidies, local farmers were not getting their products sold.
“We are hearing complaints from farmers indicating that now they are even seeing their sales to butchers in the market not being what it was usually. As a matter of fact, in some cases there are cancelled orders,” he said.
Pleading with pork importers not to “jeopardize poor ordinary families”, Paul said: “These are people who are depending on this money in order to feed their families and to pay the house rent, the mortgage and pay the increased land taxes.”
Also pleading with consumers to buy local products, Paul said the consequences of not doing such could be severe.
He explained that many of the over 1,000 pig farmers on the island were individuals who lost their jobs and were trying to make an honest living by investing all their savings in farming.
“If that avenue for sales, in terms of local pork producers, is compromised we are going to have some difficulty and farmers themselves are going to have some difficulty,” he warned.
Insisting that jobs were being put at risk, Paul said: “If businesses out there are not supporting our local farmers even at this time when we are going through the type of experiences we are going through . . . I am calling on Barbadians to at least at this point support your kith and kin,” he added.
Paul also pleaded with authorities to consider putting back a Pig Production and Marketing Committee in place to help regulate the industry.
That committee, which went dormant more than five years ago, was responsible for doing periodic analysis of the market to see where production levels were and make recommendations in relation to imports.
He argued that under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, Barbados had the right to take action to control imports if it was evident that importation would damage the economy.
“I think what is disappointing in this case, is that persons who are getting into the market now are not persons whose businesses will suffer if they do not import pork,” said Paul.
“So I am appealing to the powers that we need to take a look at whether or not we should be continuing to grant import licences to those companies that are bringing in pork and causing so much problems for our local producers,” said Paul.
He also complained about an increase in the importation of poultry wings and animal feed in recent times, arguing that local production was able to satisfy the market.