The Christmas season has not shaped up to be very merry for local farmers. In fact, chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, told Barbados TODAY the year, in general, was quite “woeful”.
Speaking via telephone he said that even though the sale of poultry products increased favourably during December, they were not sufficient to compensate for the “absolute decline” suffered this year.
Furthermore, while the Yuletide season is always “good” to the industry, this year farmers were unable to achieve 2012’s target and he again blamed the importation of poultry products on this shortfall.
Paul said that while they were able to address the importation of eggs into the country, which had resulted in the industry producing more and doing well in sales, they had not been able to manage the importation of chicken, hence the reason for the continued decline in poultry sales.
His comments came as Barbados TODAY learned that at least one major producer of poultry in the lead-up to Christmas day was slaughtering as many as 40,000 birds per day.
Despite this, Paul said: “Poultry meat we suffered a drop in production for 2013 and . . . one month cannot compensate for the fact that during the early part of the year the industry was under tremendous pressure from the importation of some of these poultry products. [This] is something the industry will have to address immediately. We think that the importation of poultry and other categories has an impact; so certainly that is something we have to pay attention to.”
In terms of pig production, the agricultural head noted that though pig farmers had issues with the price of feed, the production was steady.
“That would have at least helped pig farmers in terms of staying in business but it is still a very difficult environment that we are in. I am hoping that they be able to weather it and go beyond those levels in 2014.
But next year we are looking to get other interests in the private sector to give more investment to the agricultural sector,” said Paul.
“I think it is important that this happens because while [Government] has incentives . . . we need to get the cooperation of the other elements in the private sector, for instance our tourism sector, . . . who are prepared to support the local agricultural sector to buy their products.
During the year we have been able to establish some contacts with hotel operators who have expressed a keen interest in working with the agricultural sector so we want to exploit that to see whether or not we can create an alternative avenue or large avenues for the sale of locally produced agricultural goods,” he added as he stressed that local farmers were more than able to meet standards and supply quality produce.