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BAS beef

marciadottin, [email protected]

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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, is hopping mad over the importationof pork products during the just ended Crop-Over Festival to compete with the local meat.  And he pointed an accusing finger at a particular distributor – who he did not name – as a prime culpritin selling imports to a popular weekly “lime”.Speaking to the media yesterday at the BAS headquarters, The Grotto, Beckles Road, St Michael, Paul said Barbados had to stop “fooling” itself into believing imported meat was going to positively affect consumer prices, adding that a lot of people did not appreciate the “cost realities” relevant to the meat industry as Barbados did not have the access to cheap electricity other territories did.“These industries have to pay Barbadian labour which is expensive as we don’t have the benefit of cheap electricity like in Trinidad where wage rates are less than half here.“[However] I cannot think of any product in Barbados which price has done down as a result of importation. What we need to do is to listen to the prevailing wisdom that is coming down from the Caribbean that clearly shows that removing import duties only undermines the agricultural sector. You just have to go as far as the same Trinidad, where they are experiencing a problem in terms of increased prices for food,” he said.Paul said the evidence was particularly glaring during the Crop-Over season.“During Crop-Over, one would expect a great amount of local pork to be sold but where we should be seeing greater support from the business community we have a situation where local pork has to compete with imported pork, so the BAS now has to look at initiatives to prevent this in the future,” he said.As for the poultry industry, he said farmers were “barely holding their own”, although he added this could partiallybe due to reduced purchasing power.“We are looking at initiatives within the poultry sector to ensure we have continuous support from consumers. Based on the amount of chicks slaughtered, we are barely holding our own at the moment; we are not seeing the kinds of sales we are accustomed seeing,” he said.Paul said the BAS would start to identify and target food retailers and wholesalers to encourage them to buy more local products but added that farmers also had a responsibility to maintain a level of production to meet consumer demands. (CA)

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