More needed for farmers


Some people in Barbados’ tourism sector are being too selfish towards their counterparts in agriculture.

Independent Senator Dr. Frances Chandler, a respected agronomist, yesterday called for the abundance of “lip service” from hotels and others to stop, and urged them to stop taking so much and do more giving to farmers and other people in agriculture.

Chandler was speaking in the Upper House during discussion on the new tourism development White Paper.

“The tourism sector gives a lot of lip service to the agricultural sector but when you really think about it the business that is done is much too little,” she complained.

“There has to be a give and take in this situation and I think what happens is agriculture is meant to give and tourism is meant to take, but it has to be a shared project and we have to work our way through the difficulties and find solutions.”

She used a personal experience, involving a hotel group and farmers she represented, to illustrate the current difficulties.

“I voluntarily tried to twin a group of hotels, it was four hotels and a restaurant, with farmers and they give me the quantities of product they needed per week and the prices they were willing to pay and I went out and tried to get farmers who could supply at the price,” she noted.

“And I was getting along quite well, quite a few of the farmers could supply a lot of the products. Well, I think I started that around March, it’s now the end of the year and we sold the large amount of one bag of onions out of that effort. So I think that we need more persistence than that.

“Hotels want the farmers to deliver five pounds of something and five pounds of something else everyday, or three or four times a week because they don’t want to store it, they don’t have any storage. Well I really can’t see how it could be feasible especially since the farmers have not received their tax rebate on diesel for them to travel up and down the island delivering everyday these small quantities.”

This, she said, showed there was need for “a give and a take and not the tourism taking all and everything must be to suit them”.

Chandler also saw the importance of having “more places offering simple Bajan meals, tasty, and maybe we could even try to make them a little more healthy so that we can promote healthy meals”. (SC)

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