BAS in foul mood over imported poultry
The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) today called for a virtual ban on the importation of poultry products at this time, saying local producers were able to supply the market.
The BAS has been up in arms in recent weeks over the importation of chicken wings, which the body said was to the detriment of local farmers.
Addressing a news conference this afternoon, Chief Executive Officer James Paul said production was on course to exceed 10 million birds this year, and there was no reason to allow traders to import any more.
“This is the second straight year that we are seeing those types of levels of production. And in the face of that, how could we as a country in good conscience, issue any import licence to any importer who seeks to bring in commodities that compete with local producers after they have made a determined effort to increase local production? The reason being that they are looking to satisfy the local Barbadian market,” Paul said, stressing that the industry employed close to 2,000 people directly and indirectly.
The agricultural executive also stressed the health value of local produce, insisting it “can stand up to the scrutiny of any international standard”.
“It is a scientific fact. Doctors will tell you that the fresher the product you consume, the more healthy the impact on the body. So therefore it is a win-win.
“At the same time when we are getting concerned over the fact that Barbadians are on the streets and they are dropping dead in some cases, why then are we encouraging practices among our business community that undermines that?”
Paul also pointed to discrepancies in labelling standards, which have also been raised by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We have indicated that it is unfair to ask local poultry producers to label their products in a certain way, and yet imported produce that comes in can be defrosted, put into other bags, and the labelling specifications that should be there are not being upheld,” he said.
Paul cautioned that Barbados should not dismiss the contribution of the local poultry industry to the economy, and should ensure that a level playing field existed for both local and imported products.
“And not only that. That those poor Barbadians who currently feed their families from poultry production, that they are not prevented from doing so, and we are not condemned as Barbadians to be servants to other people in order to make a living, because they don’t even pay them that well,” Paul said.