Gov’t seeking to construct a tannery
Government is pursuing the construction of a tannery on the island.
Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Dennis Kellman, revealed this, this morning as he addressed officials from the ministry, Barbados Investment & Development Corporation, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Canadian High Commission at the official unveiling of the Barbados blackbelly sheep logo at the Pelican Craft Village in the City.
Kellman said that if the manufacturing sector was to diversify, other export niche markets such as the tanning of leather from the blackbelly sheep and making use of its many applications must be an option. So possible locations have been identified, he said, and the “funding to construct the tannery is being actively pursued”.
Presently, hides are harvested, shipped abroad to be tanned and then reshipped to Barbados, but he stressed, this action could not continued if the brand was to remain authentic and preserved.
Another point of note made by the minister was the benefits derived from what he referred to as a “national treasure”. It is known that the hide of the Barbados blackbelly sheep produces one of the best quality leathers in the world and while it was more popularly used for the production of bags, coats, gloves, jewellery and spa products, the manufacturing sector and Barbados on a whole could benefit from the production of shoes.
Kellman said there was research conducted by his ministry and the outcome showed that the manufacturing of shoes from the hide would be particularly beneficial to those people grappling with complications of diabetes resulting in “diabetic foot”.
“The manufacturing of custom-made shoes for those persons who have foot problems could potentially reduce the number of amputations that are performed each year, seeing that poor blood circulation was a significant complication for those having that particular problem.
Leather produced from the skin of the black belly sheep is highly recommended as the leather of choice for the manufacturer and also for the manufacturing of shoes. This is simply because the research has shown that the skin of the Barbados blackbelly sheep produces leather that is softer and more elastic than produced from other animals,” he said.
“This allows for the making of a shoe that is softer and more flexible and therefore idle for a person encountering foot problems as a result of diabetes. The expertise that is present on the island will be used to pursue and develop the product, all products that can be produced through the utilisation of various parts of the Barbados blackbelly sheep that have export potential and therefore we are likely to generate foreign exchange from exploiting it.”
Today’s logo launch was a part of the Improving The Sustainability of the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Industry in Barbados project. The project is in partnership with the ministry, BIDC, Barbados Sheep & Goats Farmers Association and the High Commission of Canada ,which contributed CDN$50,000 to IICA.
It is aimed at sensitising, training and providing mentorship opportunities for youth interested in Barbados Blackbelly sheep industry, from husbandry to the supply of inputs to the creation of value added commodities.Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados,
Richard Hanley said he was very proud to be involved in the project as Canada saw the importance of working along with other nations to create more economic opportunities for all. The audience was later treated to samples of ginger rice with blackbelly sheep, roasted blackbelly sheep and craft made the hide of the sheep. (KC)†††††