Wednesday 12 August, 2020

Agriculture sector moving forward despite challenges 

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS),  James Paul.

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul.

The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) continues to place the interests of the members first and has been  engaging in the creation of new opportunities for the marketing of members’ produce and addressing production issues which arise from time to time in the sector.

Word of this comes from Chief Executive Officer of the BAS, James Paul.

He added that in spite of the limited resources available to the organisation which have been utilised to benefit farmers, there have been some successes

One such success is seen as the Barbados Sheep and Goat Farmers Incorporated (BSGFI) commodity group has been continuing their efforts to develop the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep, especially when the meat is in demand locally with retailers and persons in the hospitality sector being prepared to pay premium prices for the commodity.

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“The problem is that consistency of production cannot be maintained in order to supply the current market demand. It would therefore be foolhardy of the BSGFI to promote consumption of a commodity and then be unable to meet market demand,” Paul explained.

Turning attention to the Dairy and Beef Producers’ Association as he addressed the recently held BAS AGM, he said the production of milk has now been stabilised by the importation of dairy cows that took place in 2017 and that they are looking forward to seeing a slight increase in overall milk production for the year.

The total amount of milk produced during 2018 was  3,648,623 kg, and he does not anticipate that the 2019 production will surpass this by much.

“But one of the drags on production has been the problems being experienced by one of the largest individual dairy producers and it is necessary that we source technical help to address the problem. 

"Too many of the support institutions for agriculture go into areas that really have no impact on improving production and there needs to be some rethinking of the current programs that are currently being conducted,” he disclosed.

Does Barbados rely too heavily on agricultural imports?

I'm not sure

The beef sector too needs attention according to the CEO. The market for local beef is impacted heavily by beef imports and while there has been constant talk of the need to link the local agricultural sector with the tourism sector, he would like to see this really materalise.

He is also of the view that the recent increases in the prices of diesel and water will impact on the cost of production of agricultural commodities.

“It is a historical fact that most agricultural commodities have certain price inflexibility. This therefore limits the ability of agricultural producers to recover increases in the costs of inputs” he noted.

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