Local farmer raises red flags
A local farmer has raised red flags about the importation of inferior productions into Barbados, which he said will negatively impact the agriculture sector.
Timothy Walsh, owner of Nature’s Produce which is involved in sustainable agriculture, producing eggs, lettuce, tilapia, crayfish, and a range of fruits, has called on Government to intervene.
Chief among his concerns is the importation of fish products, which were “a bit questionable in quality”, from China, as well as imported lettuce which did not meet international standards.
Walsh expressed his concern to Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss during a tour of his St Peter property today.
“If you look at the tilapia it is a rapidly growing market in Barbados . . . yet you have stuff coming form China that is substandard and basically taking away what your market is,” said a visibly concerned Walsh.
He said while he was currently selling his fish to Massy Stores Supermarkets and Carlton Supermarkets, he was having a hard time getting fish into another supermarket that was importing its products from China.
“All of them don’t meet the minimum residue levels to go into Europe, America or Australia, yet we are accepting them here,” he said.
Vegetables, Walsh said, were also being imported into Barbados unnecessarily. He also singled out sweet peppers that he said were coming into the island because they were “rejects” from their country of origin.
“There [are many of] these products that we are having the same issue [with] and the local farmers are producing a fresher product and they are not getting access to the market.
“Everybody is telling the local farmers to produce but so many of the farmers cannot access the market in any form or fashion,” he lamented, adding that hotels were chief among those who only paid lip service to supporting local farmers.
Walsh told Inniss that while the problems were not new, they seemed to be getting worse.
In response, the minister said while it was the duty of the Government to create the right type of enabling environment, it could not force people to buy from any particular supplier.
However, he said based on the issues raised by Walsh, there was a need for inspectors at the port of entry and “various standards authorities” to “do better”.
“Certainly for state agencies that procure items I believe we ought to give priority to locally produced items as oppose to that which is imported,” Inniss added.