Sir Frank knocks landowners

A leading economist is placing the blame for the dwindling sugar cane production on “laziness” in the private sector, specifically large sugar cane landowners.

Addressing Friday’s Democratic Labour Party (DLP) lunchtime lecture on the topic ‘Fiscal Consolidation in Small Developing Economies’ at the party’s George Street, Belleville, St Michael headquarters, Sir Frank Alleyne said Barbados’ sugar industry had fallen below that of other countries because of slothful plantation owners.

“Our problem in Barbados with sugar has to do with the laziness of the large sugar owners. And I make no apology for saying that. Barbados was one of the leading countries in the world in research with respect to the development of new cane varieties . . . and countries from all parts of Africa came here and benefited from that, and they are now far ahead of Barbados,” he said.

The academic expressed disappointment that the country was incurring losses, especially in bulk sugar, while the private sector refused to take the lead in breathing new life into the industry.

“Some countries came in after us and are far higher in the development chain and use the sugar cane to make a wide range downstream profit and we are still operating like the 1700’s. But it is not you or me. We are not responsible for it. It is the people that own the lands,” Sir Frank said.

Sugar cane field

However, as it relates to the wider agriculture sector, the respected economist said both private and public sectors ought to accept responsibility for the state of affairs.

He said Government should act as a facilitator by “setting the conditions for the private sector”, while the private sector invests in the technology necessary to improve the industry.

The retired University of the West Indies lecturer said while some farmers were adding value on a large scale there were still too many doing just the minimum.

He also said there was need for improved communication between the leadership of the agriculture sector and the Ministry of Agriculture.

“You cannot ask the farmers to come and be involved in a project unless you take the farmer into your confidence. You must be able to give answers to whatever queries. There is no hesitation to that. If you want me to commit my time and resources you have to communicate with me, tell me what it is about,” he stressed.

Stating there was a standoff of sorts between most of those in the large farming community and Government, Sir Frank said this was so because the private sector was taking a more short-term view to the sector whereas “Government is quite rightly thinking about long-term agriculture”.

“I disagree with the farmers that the Government should agree to a year by year decision making,” Sir Frank said.

He added he was also unhappy about how the Ministry of Agriculture was functioning, although he declined to elaborate. (MM)

15 Responses to Sir Frank knocks landowners

  1. Sue Donym January 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    According to Sir Frank the “respected economist” the fault is on the lazy farmers. Nothing to do with:
    – government starting price negotiations on the eve of sugar harvesting
    – government agencies paying farmers sometimes over a year after production
    – the continued fall of sugar prices worldwide
    – the increasing costs of harvesting (manual and mechanical)
    – changing transportation logistics in part due to factory closures

    Does Sir Frank think that patriotism or sentimentality can carry the sugar industry where he believes it should be? Do the agents of government have some duty to treat the farmers and workers in the sugar industry with enough respect to address the countless problems? Should a land owner seek to enhance the returns from his land or should their time be devoted to appeasing apologists for poor policies?

  2. Alew January 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Good evening to all.
    I agree with your sentiments Sue. For all the economist that Sir Frank is – who died and made him an expert. This Freundel Stuart administration has rail-road our sugar industry and all they do day after day is point fingers.
    Nine years in power and they still pointing fingers. Stop trying to pull red herring across the trail. You want something to talk about… talk about the lack of transparency among your government’s politicians.
    Talk about where the money is being spent – sorry siphoned and who greasing who hand. We want to know.
    Talk about how much money was actually spent for the fiftieth anniversary debacle (I did not celebrate, and cannot celebrate when I am left to live at the whims and fancies of a few who care only about themselves and their pensions).
    Such a shame.
    Freundel cannot discipline none o wunnah and wunnah get way with so much foolishness.
    Signed… one who has suffered at DEM hands

  3. Hal Austin January 21, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    There are a number of myths that local economists indulge in: first is that of the foreign reserves; and the second is that there is a different style of economic management for so-called small open economies.
    Good economic management is good economic management, if you are running the US economy or Haiti.
    Bad judgement is bad judgement. The idea of the small open economy is an escape; any criticism will be rejected as not understanding a small economy. In reality it is nonsense. It simply stops people from thinking.

  4. Richard Johnston January 21, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Time for a Robert Mugabe to come along and show them a thing or two about land use.

  5. Saga Boy January 21, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Sue et al you need to read what Dr.Alleyne said again instead of focusing on the lazy planters. He should have said that the same planters have in the past exploited government and benefited tremendously. I agree with him….farmers were ahead and should have stayed ahead by researching and planting canes with the highest yields. He also stressed that both private and public sectors need to work together.

    Hal Austin you need to read economics 101 again. The approaches for small open economies must be different. How can a small country like Barbados be compared with countries with vast resources?

  6. J. Payne January 21, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Taxation killing business in Barbados. Industry have businesses shutting down and selling off. All that is left is Pride.

  7. Tony Webster January 21, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you@Sue Donym, for your elegant surgery on a poor-rakey “speech” attempt to shift blame onto a ( modernized and up-dated) whipping-boy….and you overlooked the small matter of praedial larceny, which continues to hobble most serious attempts at large-scale agricultural ventures, in general. Ask Pat Bethel, or a host of other skilled,experienced, and forward-thinking famers. These so-called “news-worthy” but tired, predictable, party-hack speeches to a couple empty chairs on George Street…are as illuminating as tthe light created by a box of wet matches in a dark, damp train tunnel with more darkness and an IMMENSE , MENACING, FORCE ahead, like the sound made by approaching train.
    Poor me to suggest a solution to such upworthy folks invited to undertake such “command performances” to face the cameras….but cannot you politely decline…or quickly arrange to spend a day in St. Vincent? Or Bequia…nice folks over there….and the Ferry is always on time. Verily.

    When a trusted chair, or cow, or dog, has outlived its usefulness, the decent thing to do is to put it out to pasture. That is, if you have another cow. (etc) , to replace the old one(s) continually being wheeled out to the TV-8 cameras.

  8. Sue Donym January 21, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    Truth, @Tony Webster. That I omitted praedial larceny is testament to the fact that we’ve been somewhat numbed to it. Unfortunately they’ve even treated it like a poor relation to other forms of stealing rather than to make penalties for these crimes more swift, severe and sure!
    Thanks to those who’ve taken time to give me a mention. I look forward to having some good discussion as I’ve noticed some intelligent commentary on a range of topics.

  9. jus me January 22, 2017 at 12:57 am

    I notice most of the Land owners are very quiet.
    No doubt dismayed that this much ole shite can be wasted and not given to them as fertiliser.
    Sir Frank, for Gods sake shut up, we got enough Government idiots on a daily basis.
    With out your Knightly, clap trap.
    The reason they gave up was NOT laziness ,unlike you SIR Frank, they know when they are on a loser.

  10. margaretp January 22, 2017 at 5:00 am

    This is the kind of nonsense talk that is destroying ournational intellect. People will read this nonsense and start repeating it all over the talk shows and soon all of Barbados will be blaming the failings of the sugar industry on lazy sugar plantation owners. It’s more of the same; blame somebody, accuse somebody, curse somebody, anything but enact and implement policies, incentives, regulations to guide business people in the direction you want them to go in.
    The first thing you learn in economics is that a market economy is driven by self-interest and competition; i.e. people and businesses will do what’s in their best interest. The role of government and its is to regulate that self-interest for the benefit of the masses.
    “Dr” Alleyne has been around the ruling party for umpteen years, in all sorts of roles. How has he advised the governments with which he worked to regulate the “laziness” that he complains of?
    And btw, I never heard of a businessman too lazy to make money yet.

  11. jrsmith January 22, 2017 at 10:44 am

    The industry was set to fail and fall prey to the 1% of persons in barbados to make, massive plots of land available as cheap as possible , to be sold off to certain people , not including local bajans , but to who plays no political part on the island and who control the politicians , especially the ones who pass themselves off as government officials…

    Our sugar industry just was allowed to fail by politicians year after year so quick and easy..
    If anyone may recall , our Priminister said he was glad to see the back of the sugar industry, I hope someone set me right on this….The industry was destroyed with no attempt to put anything in its place

  12. Hal Austin January 22, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Saga Boy,

    Good management is good management. If that differs between a larger and smaller economy, plse tell me how.

  13. Peter January 22, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Sue Donym, I too join Alew, Hal and Tony web in complimenting your factual emission of truth well told. Saga boy wrote all the sheet he is covered with. These politicians are tactically maneuvering to get the farmers to donate the land to them. Dr. Alleyne is an ecomomiss. He missed everything. Jennifer is thinking… Oh give the land back to the black people . you owe them. Jennifer. Black people were NOT the first to arrive in Barbados. They were brought or rather shipped here. The first to reach this island were the Guyanese Amerindians. It was invaded by the European settlers, mainly British slave traders who, on finding no gold, turned gto using their captives to cultivate sugar cane which became the new gold dust to the British. I do not judge Barbadians by the color of their pigment for I an certainly not white. I judge on what I determine as true and factual and what will benefit ALL concerned.

    • Leroy January 23, 2017 at 5:08 am

      So give the land to Guyanese?

  14. F.A.Rudder January 23, 2017 at 10:46 am

    A year by year decision is quite ok for the market vendors as far as business planning goes but at industrial management and operations your have to plan for a decade especially in the sugar cane production sector. Projected weather patterns from past years of climate and manpower estimates are essentials in the final analysis. Field preparation and and pest control (eg) rats, moth borer are also important to good productive years. Sixty years ago sugar estates had pastured sourgrass to mulch the first year planter butts today sour grass and kus-kus are all gone, these are the things sugar farmers had to have in place. This process employed the vast majority of rural dwellers at that time. Back pay and windfall monies were the assets of the day.


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