Importing chicken wings unacceptable, says BAS head
Agriculture stakeholders want an investigation into the granting of a licence to an importer to bring in two containers of chicken wings, despite local farmers being more than able to meet the demand.
An infuriated chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, who described the treatment meted out to the local agriculture sector as appalling, said it was “completely unacceptable” for such a situation to be occurring.
“Certainly the industry cannot feel happy about this current development,” he said at a Press conference at the BAS’ Beckles Road, St Michael headquarters this afternoon.
“The industry will be calling for an investigation into this matter and why is it that a state corporation that is there to protect the industry has allowed this to continue under
Complaining about what he sees as scant respect and disregard for the industry, Paul said: “Here it is, over the last three months we have a picture of increased poultry production, especially among small people. Therefore, the question in such an environment where we see local farmers have actually stepped up to the plate . . . how is it that we have a situation where we have now an importer bringing in two containers of chicken [when] all that will do is actually compete with local poultry producers?”
“What those in the industry must say is that they are not happy with what has happened; they are not happy over the fact that a state agency that is supposed to be a developmental organization for the agriculture sector would have sought to engage in such an irrational and reckless action at a time when we are trying to bolster our local productive sectors,” he added.
He disclosed that the BAS had been in communication with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade to try to get to the bottom of this matter. Paul complained that the move was particularly upsetting because established restaurants like Chefette had used 100 per cent local poultry over the years.
“We have Chefette sticking to the business plan and saying that they can rely on local poultry producers to give them the type of quality product that they need and at an affordable price. So we have no difficulties meeting the demand of any restaurateur. What I think is unfortunate in this particular instance is that we have two containers of chicken [being imported] by a person who really has no interest, who made their money outside of the poultry industry,” the BAS boss charged.
“At a time when we are saying that we would want people to invest more in the productive sectors, here we have a situation that obviously a business . . . . that has money to invest, instead of investing that money in our local productive sector, they are looking to undermine and basically destroy our local poultry producers.”
During the media conference, Paul said that not only was poultry production increasing, but there was a surplus.
“We have a situation in this country today where we have 309,000 kilogrammes of chicken in stock right now because of the current state of the market they cannot be sold,”
“We also have another processor who has another 20,000 kilogrammes of chicken in stock that cannot be sold. We have other smaller processors who have chicken in stock that cannot be sold.”
Paul added that over a three-month period there were 150,000 more birds than average being put out each month.
“Indications are that as we proceed into the other part of the year that this will continue,” he said.
The BAS head suggested this increase was due to people turning to agriculture as a means of sustaining themselves in a climate of economic downturn and job losses.
“What we are going to see as we go on and progress throughout the year is increasing numbers of people involved in agriculture, and more especially in poultry production,” he said.