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Big bucks in Blackbelly

marciadottin, [email protected]

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Properly organised, the Blackbelly sheep business can contribute millions of dollars to the Barbados economy.Consul general in Toronto, Dr Leroy McClean, made this point on Friday while delivering the weekly luncheon lecture at the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) headquarters in Belleville, St Michael.He said the sheep business had problems ranging from “lack of structure and coordination” to reduced population and high cost of feed, but there was a lot of potential. “I believe that a Barbados Blackbelly sheep industry could bring millions of dollars to the Barbados economy and could establish Barbados as a centre of excellence for hair sheep research,” he told the gathering.According to McClean, Barbados needs a full-fledged sheep industry, with a tanning facility, a breeding programme aimed at improving the stock, and with farmers categorised as breeders and meat producers.McClean said there was potentially greater value in the skin of the sheep than in the meat and earnings could be maximised if Barbados had “a clear production strategy”.He suggested getting Barbados Community College (BCC) students to produce designs for items to be created with leather made from the sheep’s skin and having celebrities endorse the products.Barbados had about 30 000 Blackbelly sheep in the 1980s, but there are now said to be fewer than 10 000, McClean reported.He also believes that developing “to the maximum potential” the white Lisbon yam, aloe vera (referred to as medicinal aloes), Sea Island Cotton and sugar cane can make a significant impact on the Barbados economy.“However, there are several impediments, one of the greatest of which is our innate failure to appreciate what is local,” he said. (TY)