Courting cassava

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick

The Government of Barbados has announced plans to introduce a new $2.5 million project designed to control inflation caused by imported food.

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, revealed recently during a press conference at his Graeme Hall, Christ Church office, that the Government was working with the Chinese, to establish a National Cassava Feed To Food Programme, which would convert cassava to animal feed as well as to flour.

Estwick said Government, having recognised that the country faced a “very heavy” inflation problem once international oil prices started to rise and commodity prices fluctuated, and being a net price-taker, it had to take drastic measures to control this situation”.

“We are a net price increase, or price taker in Barbados,” Estwick said. “As a result of that, we have been looking very strongly at the development of a National Cassava Feed to Food Programme. This programme has already been designed to a large extent.”

Going forward

“We have been working with Dr. [Ena] Harvey and they would have been working on the terms of reference in regards to how we go forward to tie down this programme.

“We have also been working with China, and a lot of work would have been done through (the) former ambassador where he had identified companies in China that would provide Barbados with a turn key factory operation that would allow for an automatic process from the harvesting of the cassava on the ground, to the production of cassava pellets as feed for ruminants as well as for poultry as well as for flour production,” Estwick revealed.

He said the Government was now at the stage where the Ministry of Foreign Trade was “engaging” the Chinese grant fund programme to provide the financing to execute the venture.

“We think we have gone pretty far and we are confident that once we can get those funds in place, we can bring those pieces of equipment here in Barbados. We have enough land through the BAMC … [and] the BADMC to be able to grow, and we are looking at around 3,000 acres of cassava in Barbados, which would create a cassava industry,” the minister declared.

Estwick pointed out that the idea was to take the root crop from the farm to the finished product, which would provide jobs as well as mitigate against price fluctuations associated with the imported feeds for poultry and animals.

“Obviously you would appreciate the impact of that nationally is the skyrocketing of your chicken prices, as well as your beef, lanb and so on,” he stated.

He said the project would be managed by the BADMC. (EJ)†

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