Barbadians Urged to Buy Local Poultry

BARBADOS - The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) maintains that the importation of chicken into the country is putting the livelihoods of poultry farmers in jeopardy.
calendar icon 10 June 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

Chief Executive Officer of the BAS, James Paul, in an interview with The Barbados Advocate, indicated that the industry is not going to lie down and play dead and watch its livelihood being threatened, and is prepared to take its plight to the public to garner support.

He was speaking as he reflected on the recent approval given by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) to a local food operation for a shipment of chicken wings, contending that with that large quantity of chicken coming in, along with the normal imports and the increased production the sector has been recording, it would pose problems for the farmers.

Mr Paul contended that in recent times with the decline in the economy and more people losing their jobs, persons have turned to agriculture to create opportunities of alternative employment or to supplement their incomes, and this has seen a marked increase in the number of birds being grown and slaughtered for the market. He warned that if imports continued to be allowed in and be sold cheaper than those on the local market, the industry will be saddled with thousands of birds that it will not be able to offload.

He said that during the first three months of this year the poultry placements of baby chicks increased by 150,000 each month, an indication that the sector is growing. To that end, he said that instead of commercial enterprises looking outside for a product that is produced here, they should be seeking to source those products to see how they can help keep the local suppliers in operation.

"Our concern in this whole scenario is – here it is we have encouraged people to go into poultry production and we have a situation still today where many of the major plants only operate three out of the five days during the work week; but we think too that there is an opportunity for growth, but the imports are thwarting that possibility," he maintained.

Mr Paul said the BAS intends to cite those businesses that do not support them and will be calling on all Barbadians, and in particular the family members of the local poultry farmers, to support the food establishments that buy local. His comments came as he contended that contrary to popular belief the local poultry sector is not controlled by any monopoly, rather, he said, there are thousands of poultry growers carrying out that trade on a daily basis.

"This is about defending those poultry growers who want to be able when Crop Over comes and year round in fact, to be able to sell the chickens that grow on their farms just like somebody in the US or the UK. We have a weak economy, spending is down and we are further compromising it by bringing in imported poultry. I am asking our consumers to be mindful of where they are purchasing chicken from and which businesses they are supporting," he said.

With that in mind, BAS official maintained that local business enterprises have to recognise their corporate responsibility not to jeopardise the economy or the livelihoods of the people. However, he said there are some who have continued to purchase local poultry and they must be commended.

Mr Paul added, "I applaud Chefette and Kentucky for the fact that they have been able, as fast food operators in this country, to support the local poultry industry and there are others. I am saying if they are able to be successful and to grow and be strong even in this economic environment, why can’t they all do it too?"

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