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BAS to talk it over with Trimart

Maria Bradshaw

BAS to talk it over with Trimart

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THE Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) is planning to discuss with management at Trimart Supermarkets its recent decision to drastically reduce its intake of chickens from small farmers.
Chief executive officer of BAS, James Paul, told the WEEKEND NATION yesterday that a number of farmers had drawn the situation to the attention of BAS.
Farmers complained that they were informed by officials at the supermarket chain last Sunday that Trimart will only be taking 20 chickens a week, a sharp drop from the previous 6 000 approximately a month.
When contacted on Wednesday, Jeffrey Evelyn, the chief executive officer of Trimart, reported that the supermarket would not be taking chickens from farmers unless they were delivered in an enclosed refrigerated vehicle. He also confirmed that
Trimart had an agreement with Chickmont Foods Ltd. one of the major processors of chicken, to supply them with the produce.
Paul said that BAS was not aware of the reasons for this latest development but the organisation was willing to work with both parties.
“We try to encourage the supermarkets to support farmers in general. I intend to speak to the operators of Trimart to see whether or not there are any issues in respect of the small operators supplying to them and if in fact there are issues, how can the BAS help to get them to satisfy the requirements.”
Paul said the decision by Trimart was a “mystery” because the farmers had been supplying produce to them for several years.
“They [Trimart] may be saying we need the smaller farmers to satisfy certain requirements. But what are these requirements? The fact that they have decided to take this action without even informing the farmers as to whether or not there was an issue, what is the problem and if there is an issue how do we get that issue addressed, is a mystery and we would have to get to the bottom of the mystery.”
He also confirmed that it was not only poultry farmers who were affected. He was aware that the supermarket had reduced its intake of other meats and vegetables from small farmers in general.
Paul however stated that he did not expect this action by the supermarket to greatly affect farmers during the Christmas season since produce was always in great demand around that time.
But he stressed that if as a result of the action taken by Trimart there was a decline in the produce of farmers being sold “we would have serious concerns”.
In terms of the transportation of chickens in refrigerated vehicles, Paul pointed out that there were indeed certain standards being set regarding food safety and hygiene.
“One of the things we are trying to do in terms of the food supply chain is to ensure that it meets certain standards. So for instance you are not supposed to transport pork to supermarkets without a refrigerated vehicle. Even in terms of the person who is  slaughtering they are supposed to slaughter under certain conditions.
“The other issue too is that we are in a world where people are insisting on these things so it is something that is happening around the world.”