Paul: Look at global effects on production

shadiasimpson, shadiasimpson@nationnews.com

Added 07 November 2012

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BARBADIANS SHOULD PAY MORE ATTENTION to international weather conditions and their impact on  crop yields. Too often, said James Paul,  chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), the impact  of phenomena like the recent drought  in the United States or extended  rainfall in some parts of Europe  were not fully understood locally. “We don’t quite understand that Europe has a consuming population – they consume a lot of their crops,”  he said last Wednesday during a  seminar on climate change and  food security hosted by the  Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, Barbados Agricultural Society, Cave  Hill School of Business (CHSB), and Barbados Private Sector Trade Team. Paul noted that in 2010, Barbados imported 100 per cent of its soybeans from the United States along with  86 per cent of its animal feed,  100 per cent of its wheat and  meslin (a rye-wheat mix), and  99 per cent of its maize. “We’re still trying to question  why these food prices have  to go up . . . . “The fact of the matter  is that the United States is  producing less. Yields per acre  in some cases are down because of the fact that [they] have harsher conditions, so we’re lucky that  we’re getting what we’re getting  at the moment,” he said during  the event at CHSB. “The other thing we don’t seem  to appreciate and understand is that  the world is only producing a certain amount of food . . . . “We’ve talked about the whole question of the green revolution and that . . . as the world population increased, there were technological changes that helped us to  increase yields. “The fact of the matter is the scientists are telling you that within  the last ten, 20 years there has  not been any major green  revolution,” he said. Paul noted that climate change had begun to affect local crop production. “All of a sudden we’re noticing  some very slight differences in  our temperatures. Our soil  temperatures are changing  in some cases. “All of this is having an  impact on plants that would  normally grow at certain periods.  They don’t grow at the same  periods or in the way that  we would expect,” he said. The CEO also noted that the window of opportunity for  growing crops was getting smaller  in some cases, requiring Barbadian producers to find varieties that  can adapt to climate change.  (NB)

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