Chicken Barn jumped the gun in criticising the industry
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector are threatening to protest any move by Government to sanction the importation of eggs and poultry.
The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) today said it was on high alert following claims of a shortage of the products.
But speaking at a Press conference this afternoon, chief executive officer of the BAS James Paul dismissed the reports and warned that his organization would not stand by and allow the items to be brought in when the industry was quite capable of meeting the demand.
He pointed to the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed several months ago with hoteliers and manufacturers to, among other things, establish a committee to assess the needs of the market.
He did acknowledge, however, that some suppliers had shortages, but stressed that other players were able to meet the demand over the Christmas period.
While 960 cases of eggs were brought in to help deal with the problem, the BAS boss was adamant that this should not be used as an excuse to bring in products “willy-nilly”.
“The BAS will stand stoutly against such initiatives. We have agreed already on a format if such importation is to be done. I also want to go back to the MOU. Under the MOU there was supposed to be established some kind of committee that will review the request on the part of hoteliers. We intend to contact the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association to review what their likely requirements for produce during [next] year will be and the industry is preparing to be able to provide those requirements,” he said.
The CEO said the BAS would do nothing to compromise the industry, even as he chastised members of the hospitality industry for going to the media about the shortage of chicken at fast food restaurant, Chicken Barn.
Reports indicate that the restaurant was supplied with poultry yesterday.
But Paul said the situation demonstrated a lack of planning by some sectors and urged more dialogue among interest groups.
“I think it was unfortunate, however, that an attempt was made to go to the newspaper even prior to the industry being contacted. If we are to really coexist properly within the country we would want all players, before rushing to the Press to complain, to have some level of collaboration between the various agencies to see what exactly is taking place,” he said.
James went on to warn: “No irresponsible action should be taken to satisfy wildcat claims . . . when in truth and in fact they did not appropriately notify the industry that there was going to be a problem when they did not notify the industry that this was going to be a problem.”
“One of the things that the industry would be looking to introduce is a product forecasting system . . . to do some forecasting of the availability of certain products. Once we can get that system in place, we can forecast the availability of the products during the year. At the same time, we expect the purchasers of agricultural products in this country to provide this industry with their forecast purchasing requirements.”
Carlyle Brathwaite, who is president of both the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA) and the Barbados Agricultural Society also denied a shortage of chicken.
He also denied that the industry was to be blamed for the situation that occurred.
Speaking specifically about the Chicken Barn situation, he said: “We assured the restaurant that they would have had the necessary product Monday morning because . . . we wanted to get them to the correct size that they wanted . . . To do that would have taken a few more days. They did not wait on us. Nobody contacted me as president of the BAS or president of the Egg and Poultry Association. Yet, we heard through the news. This isn’t the way that we do business,” he said in agitation.
“Chicken Barn has more than one processor . . . The main producer produced 10 per cent more chicken this year than last year for the same period. But it wasn’t them that had the problem; it was a few small processors that were unable to come up to mark because their chickens were a bit small and those were the ones that let them down. Yet, they said the industry let them down but we . . . did nothing wrong.”
Brathwaite surmised that the higher than normal demand for eggs was driven by an increase in the number of people purchasing cakes and pastries.
He said hoarding might also have been an issue.