Some of the farmers who attended the Barbados Agricultural Society’s annual general assembly on Saturday. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
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Poultry farmers are being challenged to take the industry to new heights.
During the Barbados Agricultural Society’s annual general assembly at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Saturday, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir said that while the farmers were contributing greatly to the economy, not enough was being done to raise the bar.
“I need to hear what we can do with the poultry industry other than produce whole birds for consumption,” he said.
“You cannot have such a mature industry and not carve out your unique space among new small ones to be able to determine how much more you can add.
“If you take away the chicken imports altogether, the industry must evolve and there must be space for new and small ones.” Weir said poultry farmers needed to get creative and produce tasty poultry products that could eventually be exported.
“We make good seasonings and people who visit Barbados take back bottles with them. Think of the synergies we can create with poultry and seasonings and hot peppers.
“When you go to Jamaica, the first thing you want to eat is jerk chicken or pork. That is unique to Jamaica and we need to explore opportunities like that.” The minister said he wanted more small farmers to be offered contractual work from larger farmers, so they could get a greater share of the market.
“I want cooperative arrangements, with small farmers to supply poultry to the big ones. I don’t want to hear complaints about small farmers not being able to find space within the market.” President of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers’ Association, Stephen Layne, said several small farmers already had business arrangements with large farmers. He added that some small farmers were asked to produce thousands of birds, ranging from 3 000 to 11 000.
“We need to get them on programmes so they can access supermarkets and market their goods,” he said.
“I think the industry is improving every year. We have the capacity to produce 11 million birds with ease. We have branched off into wind tunnel houses that are very sophisticated, so we are keeping abreast in technology and moving ahead in having growers’ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points certified.” (SB)