Step up, doc
Paul wants Estwick to speak to BADMC chairman on chicken impasse
The head of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, has called for Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick to intervene in the ongoing impasse between
the BAS and the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) over the importation of chicken wings.
“I really think that what should happen is that the Minister of Agriculture to speak to the chairman of the BADMC on the matter and remind him of his responsibility, and that we do not see this kind of foolishness going on,” a frustrated Paul told Barbados TODAY.
“We will cooperate as much as we can but within an accepted framework. No individual is bigger than the industry and we must follow rules and procedures. The BADMC is not an organization operating on its own. There is government policy that it has to abide by, and all I am saying is that all due respect to the chairman, I think in this particular occasion he has over extended himself,” Paul added.
The parties are at odds over the importation of a container carrying just over 24,000 kilogrammes of chicken wings.
The BADMC said it sanctioned the importation because poultry farmers simply could not provide all the market needs. However, the BAS CEO is adamant that the corporation breached protocol by failing to consult with poultry growers prior to the importation.
He is also concerned that while the importation licence was granted by the Ministry of Commerce back in February, the BAS was only apprised of the development about three weeks ago.
The two agencies are also at loggerheads over the commissioning of a poultry study.
In a letter to BAS chief executive officer Paul, released to the media on Sunday, chairman of the BADMC board of directors, Shawn Tudor, made it clear that the corporation would not back off from a proposed study to determine the impact of poultry importation on the local industry.
The stance was in response to a request by the BAS for the parties involved to hold talks on the granting of a controversial licence to import chicken wings rather than pursue the study being conducted by University of West Indies.
Paul told Barbados TODAY while the BAS was on board with a study, the BADMC was going about the process the wrong way.
“It seems that the BADMC, more especially the chairman of the BADMC, is hung up on who does the study. When we have problems like these in the industry, there is established procedure. The Ministry of Agriculture has an economic planning unit which does surveys on the industry from time to time, based on information that is collected in the industry; and what has happened is that the BADMC has failed to attend meetings of the Poultry Production Marketing Committee, even when it has been requested that they do so, which if they had attended those particular meetings a lot of those difficulties we are facing now, we would not be facing today because a lot of the explanations would have been there.
“What they don’t understand is that it is a process and the chairman himself seems to be unclear as to how the process works,” contended Paul.
He added: “What we are suggesting is that instead of the BADMC, which is a cash strapped, government run organization, seeking to spend money on a study that they do not need to spend money on, let the planning unit within the Ministry of Agriculture do what it has been agreed to and we would get the same study.”
The BAS head emphasized that his organisation was not against a study but, in his letter, Tudor maintained that the BADMC would not engage in any posturing, debate, discussion or media campaign, designed to detract from, derail, front-run or otherwise influence the UWI study.
“BADMC will not be diverted or shunted from the path that we have set ourselves in resolving this matter. We will rely on the input of scientific and factual information from
the competent professionals of the UWI,” Tudor said.
However Paul said the BADMC needed to step back from its position.
“. . . That is why in a sense they made the mistake in the first place,” said Paul, warning that “you can not take a critical part of the sector and undermine it by making the kind of decision that has been made”.
“We have made every possible attempt to try to speak to them, to cajole them in every way,” he said while noting that the BADMC had failed to show up for a meeting last week of the Poultry and Egg Production and Marketing Committee, which he said was the the actual committee within the Ministry of Agriculture that is designed to run the industry and give projections on where the industry is going.
“This is unacceptable,” he stressed.