An influx of imported pumpkins is giving local farmers a run for their money.
And chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul says the importation is unnecessary, given that Barbadian farmers are able to meet demand.
Paul said local suppliers have been taking massive losses as foreign pumpkins flood the market, resulting in a drastic reduction in prices.
“The issue is that, at the moment, we are seeing a huge amount of pumpkins coming onto the market. Traditionally, we have had a problem in the past where every time you get conkie season coming around, we’ve had a situation where we have not had enough pumpkins. However, in the past two or three years, one of the things that we have been pushing for and emphasising to our farmers is that . . . there should be no reason why Barbados should actually be importing pumpkins,” he explained.
He said farmers had answered the call and increased production of pumpkins, watermelons, and other crops. However, Paul said, because the importation of that produce did not slow over the years, local farmers have found themselves in a bind.
“We have a situation where there is one [farmer] who has pumpkins year out, and even now he is finding himself in a difficult situation where he cannot sell all. The pumpkin prices are around 50 cents a pound to 75 cents a pound, which is extremely low.
This is because of the fact that there are large quantities of pumpkin coming onto the market,” he added.
Paul has therefore pleaded with importers to stop bringing in pumpkins for now, because of the highly saturated market, and he also urged retailers to better support local producers.
The BAS also has plans to launch an initiative in the coming weeks, to educate consumers about the different ways in which the crop can be used and its benefits.
“So, hopefully, in that way, it will help to take up the amount of pumpkins that are actually coming onto the market and ensure we don’t have the level of spoilage that is likely to happen if we don’t have two things – one, the imports coming into the country, and two, consumers not being aware of the myriad of ways in which they can use pumpkins,”
BAS also intends to lobby Government to help stem the importation of produce for which there is an abundant supply locally.