Poultry and pork farmers in Barbados are looking to Government for a final resolution that would see the removal of obstacles now preventing increased production for exportation of their products.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul said Thursday that senior representatives of the Egg and Poultry Producers Association, the Pig Farmers Association and the Pig Farmers Cooperative who met with Prime Minister Mia Mottley last evening to discuss expanding production, are hoping that follow-up talks would settle the existing challenges.
“The farmers have agreed to come back to the Prime Minister with some proposals for further discussions that would lead to the type of expansion that we want,” Paul told Barbados TODAY.
“The discussions were basically around that and how the obstacles that prevented expansion in the sectors can be removed. They were very frank discussions. We are hoping that the follow-up discussions that we will have, whatever roadblocks that existed, would be removed,” stated the BAS boss, who was not in a position to specify the proposals to be submitted to the Government, nor a timeline for future rounds of talks.
In acknowledging a recent decision by Heads of Government of CARICOM to see agriculture in the region expand, and for individual countries to take steps to achieve this, Paul said the local farmers have come up with some suggestions on the issue of imports which continue to be a concern to Barbadian producers. “The issue is imports. Again, I am appealing to members of the business community, not to be reckless in how they do things in terms of imports. There needs to be a level of cooperation in terms of the importation of products,” Paul argued.
The head of the umbrella body for food and livestock farmers is heartened that the Prime Minister’s intervention shows the seriousness of the Government in seeking to rescue the agricultural sector and to address the ongoing problem of importation of products that put local growers at a competitive disadvantage.
“We are seeing now, for instance, imports of poultry, not sanctioned by the BADMC [Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation]. We had a code of practice before where all poultry imports had to be sanctioned by the BADMC before they are brought in. It seems as if people are side-stepping that process,” he stated.
Paul said the current importation of pork is another matter of worry for the local farmers. He said what was also made clear at the meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir was that local farmers needed to “step up to the plate” in light of economic and social external pressures being experienced by small developing states such as Barbados.
“Farmers have recognised that we are going to have to step up in terms of increased production in order to provide for greater food security for Barbadians. And the Prime Minister indicated that they will do what is necessary to ensure that measures are put in place to ensure it is facilitated,” Paul pointed out.