Owner says BAMC owes rent dating back to 2013
Two plantations, for which the state-run Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) owes rent dating back two years, have been placed on the auction block at a starting bid of $17.6 million.
Investigations by Barbados TODAY revealed that Thicket and Dayrells Plantations, which the BAMC has been leasing from owner Allan Kinch, are among 10 commercial and residential properties being put up for sale. The properties would fetch a total of at least $21.6 million.
Kinch told this newspaper today he was auctioning off the plantations because he was abandoning the unprofitable agriculture industry, adding that the BAMC also owed him an undisclosed sum of money, from as far back as 2013.
“They are not paying. They did not pay last year’s rent and they paid only a portion of the year before and this year’s rent is due in two months’ time. They tell me they are waiting on Government to give them the funds to be able to pay last year’s rent,” he told Barbados TODAY, although declining, when pressed, to say how much money was outstanding.
“I understand they have not even paid the plantations with respect to the payment for the sugar crop for last year. You would be surprised if any of the plantations would hire anyone and harvest the crop this year if they are not paid.”
Neither general manager of the BAMC Leslie Parris nor chairman Dr Justin Robinson was available for comment.
The local investor said he has had enough of the frustration involved in agriculture, adding that praedial larceny was another major stumbling block that was forcing farmers to give up.
Kinch said it was now necessary to find other sources of finance and embark on alternative ventures.
“[There was the need] to raise funds for doing other projects as well as to get out of the agricultural side of the business because I have been concentrating on agriculture for many years now and only recently got back into tourism, which I was in about 20 years ago,” he said.
Kinch said the commercial and residential properties in Royal Westmoreland, Sandford, Mount Pleasant, Searles and Three Houses Meadow which will go on the auction block were part of developments which were not sold and he was seeking to sell them off.
The businessman suggested that the agriculture sector could thrive if individuals could own and operate small and more manageable plots of land, rather than a few people having large properties.
He added that self-employment would be a more attractive option in the agriculture industry where, for example, 1,000 acres could be sub-divided into 100 10-acre farms.
“So I see the future in agriculture being co-ops, where you would have a carrot growers’ co-op and a pumpkin growers’ co-op; each one would be their own entity,” Kinch said.
“I think that the Ministry of Agriculture should have 51 per cent ownership and the farmers have 49 per cent. But the control would have to be in the farmers’ decision-making as to how to conduct the co-op,” he suggested.
Explaining why he would prefer to see the ministry owning the majority shareholding, Kinch said he believed that would give Government the power to ban the importation of specific commodities from any extra-regional country and make the cooperative the sole importer of those items.
Kinch also lamented in the interview with Barbados TODAY that Government bureaucracy was “killing” investment in Barbados.