BMA PROJECT COULD LEAD TO REDUCTION IN MEAT PRICES
Barbadians could eventually pay less for pork and poultry as a result of an initiative by the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA).
The Sustainable Organic Feed Manufacturing Project launched on Wednesday seeks to transform food waste into animal feed, and Chief Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Keeley Holder suggested it could make a difference in lowering the cost of meats by cutting the cost of feed.
She lauded the BMA for the initiative, noting that animal feed is the most significant input in animal production, accounting for an estimated 50 per cent and 79 per cent of the cost of poultry and pig production, respectively.
Speaking at the project launch at the ministry’s Animal Nutrition Unit in The Pine, St Michael, Holder pointed out that manufacturing animal feed locally depends on the importation of 30 000 metric tonnes of soybean and corn annually to support the 10 million birds and 33 000 pigs produced.
“If we had to grow about an acre of corn, we would get about 4 000 pounds. We would need 50 000 acres to meet this demand and Barbados is only 106 000 acres of land, of which 30 000 is for agriculture. So we do not have the landmass to be able to produce all of our feed or even a significant amount of our feed to meet this demand,” she said.
Referring to Guyana’s corn and soya bean production trials which started in 2021, the chief agricultural officer said those were progressing “exceedingly well” and would help reduce input costs here, given the partnership between the two countries.
“However, at the same time, it does not negate the fact that we want to be able to maximise what we can do locally for ourselves and this is where this [BMA] project comes in, because it means that where there is an opportunity to increase the production of our own animal feed to offset the costs, even if it is 10 per cent, it would make a significant difference in that our dependency will not be so great. It also means that we are maximising all aspects of agriculture,” she added.
Moments earlier, Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael said research, innovation and development would be critical to the project’s success.
“I am pleased to hear that the BMA and its partners will be utilising local inputs in the creation of these feeds. Where local inputs are unavailable due to seasonality, partnerships being built with Guyana and the rest of the region facilitate access to the necessary raw materials, thus making it possible to maintain a satisfactory level of high-level nutrient content within the feeds,” he said.
Stating that access to finance remains a significant challenge for small businesses, he insisted that flexible and appropriate financing for farmers interested in feed production manufacturing will be critical.