NSRL could be a blessing, says farmers

Local farmers Friday suggested that the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which is to be increased from two to ten per cent effective July 1, could wind up being a blessing in disguise.

The measure was among a controversial $542 million austerity package announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on May 30 with a view to eclipsing a $537.6 million deficit.

However, while local manufacturers and other interests have been crying foul over the 500 per cent NSRL increase, some farmers say it may actually end up being a saving grace for the local agriculture sector, which has been exempted from paying the tax that is to be levied on imports.

“The good thing about it is that all imported vegetables are going to go up, so then the local vegetables stand a better chance of selling, because with the low foreign reserves [which stood at less than $600 million or 10.3 weeks of import cover at the end of last year] hopefully Government will not be issuing import licences for things that we can grow locally,” said one farmer of 32 years, who did not want to be identified.

He further pointed out that with the rainy season commencing at the beginning of June, many farmers were expecting increased production, which he said was likely to fare better on the market once the NSRL takes effect next month.

“When the farmers here have the produce, the imported produce comes in and our local stuff sits down there and rots because the imported stuff is gotten rid of faster,” the St George farmer explained, adding that the two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions, which also takes effect on July 1, was more likely to affect the local agricultural sector since “everything that is used in agriculture in Barbados comes from overseas”.

Farmer Sherlon De Passe picking his sweet peppers.

Another St George farmer suggested that Barbadians may be forced to change their spending and eating habits.

“The imposition of the tax [NSRL] is expected to have an impact of the cost of living and I expect Bajans to look for cheaper options. So instead of buying pasta and these fancy fruit, they are going to eat more breadfruit, sweet potato, yams and eddoes,” the farmer said.

However, Egbert Maloney, a vegetable farmer for over 50 years, said he was adopting a “wait and see” approach.

“I think we’re going to have to wait and see. We don’t know what price the people will put on the agricultural inputs and then we don’t know how the imports will go towards our prices here, so it is a wait and see situation,” the Chancery Lane, Christ Church farmer said.

“The importers, they buy cheap and sell dear so we don’t know if this is the time that we will be in a better position . . . . It is a real wait and see situation,” he stressed.

12 Responses to NSRL could be a blessing, says farmers

  1. Santini More
    Santini More June 17, 2017 at 7:07 am

    When the cost of diesel / gasoline goes up and increases the cost of operating your irrigation systems or your transport costs, will that be a ‘blessing’? And when the goods that you have to buy increases in costs and you decide to pass on these increases to the public, is that also a ‘blessing’? This vicious budget will hit EVERYBODY.

  2. Sonia Seale
    Sonia Seale June 17, 2017 at 7:52 am

    “The imposition of the tax [NSRL] is expected to have an impact of the cost of living and I expect Bajans to look for cheaper options. So instead of buying pasta and these fancy fruit, they are going to eat more breadfruit, sweet potato, yams and eddoes,” the farmer said. Does this farmer even knows what he is talking about. The only thing cheap in the list he mentioned is the breadfruit and that may cost about $2 to $5 depending on the size. That is the only thing in his list that can feed a family of about six persons. The yams, eddoes and and sweet potatoes he is talking about will still cost more than the pasta after a price increase. So if he think it will be a blessing , he has to think again. He has to understand that persons have to eat seven days a week at least twice a day and they have to spend their money to buy items that would allow them to eat at least everyday and not every other day or on selected days. Yams ,eddoes and sweet potatoes cost about $3. per pound or more, so that is why persons have to buy what they can afford even if it is not as healthy as his items.

    • Mary Amos
      Mary Amos June 17, 2017 at 9:43 am

      He clearly did not think this through.

  3. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba June 17, 2017 at 8:58 am


  4. Daniel Burton
    Daniel Burton June 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Lol, cost of living increase = more crops getting stolen

  5. Cheryl Cumberbatch
    Cheryl Cumberbatch June 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Living in blissful ignorance it seems.

  6. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes June 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

    He must have inhaled too much spray, last week beans and christophenes were $8 a pound, how much will they cost in the next few weeks. If they want people to buy local things they must also learn to present them better. I saw some carrots yesterday that I will not buy, too stringy and not clean. My Father kept grew vegetables and many a morning before leaving for school we had to wash and clean 100 pounds of carrots, 200 heads of lettuce and I refuse to buy any dry vegetables. One woman’s sweet potatoes used to be covered in dirt and she would curse if you say anything. If the potatoes are shipped overseas they have to be free of dirt and are still good when purchased, so the excuse for leaving on dirt is crap. Why should a Breadfruit cost $5? Most of them are stolen, I saw a fellow with fat pork yesterday, I have never bought any. Some one I know has a Mango tree but can’t get any because fellows from town come with their bags and pick them. You want to buy local but at times the cost and looks just are not right. I will get an imported carrot that is consistent in size and color but look at most local ones, I am not buying them. Which is the best choice for most, 10 pounds English Potatoes for 8.99 or 10 pounds Sweet Potatoes for 30.00? I will buy what suits my pocket.

  7. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes June 17, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Correction……..any dirty vegetables

  8. joan Worrell June 17, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    You must learn to separate your needs from your wants. Secondly , you do not have to buy string beans at 6 dollars a pound. Leave them in the vendor’s tray. They are just another green vegetable. You can substitute them with local green cabbage , Chinese cabbage,, okras, spinach and celery. The beautiful thing about these substitutes is that they can all be blanched and frozen . Add to that selection, green sweet peppers but don’t freeze them. They are always plentiful. You don’t have to buy vegetables every week. When you go to PriceSmart and pick up a bag of mixed vegetables , you are paying for imported frozen vegetables. Why not freeze the local vegetables yourselves?

    Yes, I have dealt with green vegetables so far. now let us have a look at the local red vegetables…. You can buy beet, local red cabbage, tomatoes when they are plentiful, red sweet peppers, and radish. And finally we come to the yellow vegetables. Pumpkin and squash are sold at a very affordable price throughout the year. Carrots can be bought when they are cheap, blanched and frozen.

    Nobody likes the imposition of additional taxes but if you the farmers can work hard and supply the market with local vegetables throughout the year, the additional taxes would force Bajans to buy according to what they can afford. It will be a blessing in disguise. Bajans must cut back on the imported stuff which has the same or less nutritional value than the locally
    produced vegetables.

    Cud God, when the flying fish are sold at 60 dollars a hundred, buy a hundred nuh!! Learn to scale , de-bone and freeze them. You don’t have to do all at the same time . Put them into packs of 10 in the freezer and debone them at your convenience. Instead of eating hot dogs for breakfast, eat a flying fish. I haven’t seen frays for a long time but if they are available on the West coast, buy some and make fray cakes for breakfast. Forget the musty imported spam. Read the label and you would see the contents. It is just a sweet tasting food to give you diabetes and hypertension. And finally, stop buying imported beef burgers. Local ground beef is available . Make your own beefburgers . They are healthier.

    I have forgotten the local starches and fruits . I have seen so many mangoes this year that I am frightened. Peel them and freeze the flesh. They make a lovely drink. You have your passion fruit sometimes. When they are available, there is no need to buy orange or grapefruit juice. Enjoy your water melons when they are plentiful. I have never juiced and frozen them but I believe it can be done. What about the golden apples? They too can be peeled and the flesh frozen for later juicing. There again you have a lovely apple jouce.

    And finally finally finally. Why buy imported starches apart from rice and English potatoes.? 10 lbs of English potatoes cost about 7 dollars at the most and rice still relatively cheap. If you are not a lover of the two of those starches, you have cassava which can be peeled and frozen. local sweet potatoes and yams when the prices are right, eddoes, corn and the king of them all i.e locally milled flour which can make a few dumplings, bakes, bread, cakes and fishcakes to name a few Bajan favourite dishes.

    Let us stop complaining about the price increase of imported foods and support our local farmers.

    • Marsha October 9, 2017 at 10:34 am

      I agree, but also take a look at those with more than one mouth to feed. I don’t purchase hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. My children love vegetables, but I’m not able to purchase them on a large scale/regular basis. When shopping I go for necessity, our wants are basically non-existent. Coupled with the fact that there are unscrupulous vendors out there. If I constantly took “leave the produce there approach” we would never eat. I’m not coming up with excuses but facts. It has become extremely difficult to stretch your dollars. No matter how you look at it, this is a very difficult pill to swallow. Please don’t look at it from your financial abilities. There are a lot of us who spend wisely but at the end of the day, when do you stop placing a burden on those who genuinely can’t afford? Eventually the vendors will have to raise their prices as this tax affects every aspect of your life. My husband has started small scale farming due to unemployment, but when we calculate the costs, you have no choice but to charge to make a profit in order to keep going. The farmers prices will go up I guarantee you.

  9. Ray Yearwood June 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Well said Joan Worrell.
    On point and so true.

  10. Aneta June 17, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Thumbs up Ms. Worrell. I agree with you 100%.


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