Local Farmers Crying Out For Leadership

Submitted by Ready Done

David Estwick, Minister of Agriculture

It is obvious by grouping farming with small business that the late Prime Minister David Thompson wanted us to elevate our current view of farming to a more business like model. With the help of our leaders we can quickly make this dream a reality, we only need some basic systems put in place to guide the agri-business sector.

To be successful any business needs up to date information about the market in which it operates to ensure the best possible plan/strategy is created. Being a small farmer myself – looking for information on Aquaponics in Barbados – I became painfully aware  of the many factions of authority governing agriculture on the island. My efforts came up empty. I was frustrated at the large number of different agencies involved in the sector, and more so, how they operate completely independently of each other.

These individual agencies all claim that for agriculture to work there must be a unified stance taken by farmers. They proclaim that there must be some unity so that we can, for example, know when to plant a crop to avoid the yearly gluts on the market.

Organising the farmers of Barbados has proven to be a daunting task indeed, we are all viewed as a notorious bunch of cut throats, loathe to share basic information and thinking the market out there is only big enough for us alone. Nevertheless unity starts from the top. Its about time we see a Mission Statement from all the key players in agriculture, signalling they are willing to work together.

Currently it just seems like there is a fragmented group of associations that are each vying to be the single authority. Why should small farmers care or be motivated to work in unity when the regulating bodies in the sector  are not appearing to work together?

A statement of unification to reassure the public that we the farmers of Barbados are being lead by a unified body and we are all working together should be taken seriously. It is the next logical step for Team Barbados.

20 thoughts on “Local Farmers Crying Out For Leadership


  1. Is food important in the minds of Barbadians?

    The recent ecoli out break shows how vulnerable we are in an interconnected world.

    Importing 80% of our food needs still?

    Preposterous!


  2. David the ecoli out break in Europe makes everyone vulnerable especially small islands like Barbados, since we import most of our food and do not have an efficient health care system. We would be like dying ducks if something like this ever occurred.


  3. GREAT ARTICLE from RD* who clearly bears a certain amount of responsibility on his shoulder for what must be the “MOST” important socioeconomically viable aspect of any country’s economy growth and its ability to feed and sustain its people….

    But as you said DAVID* – this appears to be a “BACK-BURNER” issue for most on BU* which is probably reflective of the wider society’s interest (IF TAKEN AS A STRAW POLL)…

    I guess when the shelves at SuperCentre, JB’s and all the others run bare it will then become a front burner issue as there will be nothing to put in the pot for Sunday dinner…


  4. @DAVID*

    Regarding the E-COLI outbreak – the jury is still haggling in deliberation over this issue and will probably be out for awhile yet – at least in the so-called “POPULAR” media…

    But permit me to ADD* some conspiracy to this scenario (well, at least some FOLKS* are going to be thinking so anyway)…

    It cannot be denied that forces are at work to make “FOOD” the last frontier in the war on our civil liberties created in part by BIG PHARMA* in a menage-a-trois union with Government & Monsanto…

    For years the EVIDENCE* has been here on BU* for all to read but FOLKS* continue to pussy-foot; bury their heads in the sand; obfuscate responsibility for themselves and family and most importantly, as a NATION* birthed out of the caldron of a despicable past called “SLAVERY” – we run from the BLACK SOIL* in our backyards as if it were a BUBONIC* plague…

    I live in the so-called “white” man’s country and I have a VEG* garden spread in my backyard where my gorgeous wifey gets her hands dirty growing ORGANIC* fruit and veggies every year… I am also in the process of getting what we call an allotment ( apiece of land from the LOCAL* Council) which will cost the tidy sum (a king’s ransom) of £5.00 per YEAR* (LOL) to plant strawberries, raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries and other miniature fruit)…

    My personal mate (who is currently off SICK* from work) actually he is sick of work has a similar allotment and it is unbelievable the volume of produce he is able to produce in that area space….

    So Bajans have really no XCUSE* (though we are good at finding ’em) to not be self-sufficient in these BASIC* areas…


  5. @Islandgal and TB

    The lack of concern by Barbadians about food security is perplexing and challenges the level of education which we proudly hold up as a symbol of success.


  6. HERE’S ONE* OTHER REASON TO PLANT & REAR YOUR OWN!!!

    Chinese scientists have genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk, and hope to be selling it in supermarkets within three years…

    The milk produced by the “transgenic” (THIS WORD ALONE IS WORTHY OF A BU ARTICLE) cows is identical to the human variety, with the same immune-boosting and antibacterial qualities as breast milk, scientists at China’s Agricultural University in Beijing said…

    READ MORE:

    http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/china-genetically-modifying-cows-to-produce-human-breast-milk-20110608-ncx


  7. Farmers in Barbados need to be protected from thieves. They need to build a customer base for the best of their crops and sell them directly to the public.

    That has always been my position. My late father sold to middle men and hawkers who marked up his produce from 300 to 500%.

    I understand it is hard for a farmer who works from 5am to7pm and even later if he has to move irrigation pipes etc. but they must find a way to partially elimate the middle men if they are small (less than 20acres).

    Farmers should grade their crops and sell the Grade 1s retail.

    The Ministry of Agriculture is helpful to small farmers with production issues but farmers must be motivated to market and sell some of their produce to their own retail customers.


  8. DAVID@BU

    BARBADOS* is cluttered with a bunch of CLOWNS* & JOKERS* my dear ‘ole grandmother would call – “EDUCATED FOOLS”…

    FOUNDATION*, Harrison College, Queens, St. Michael, Lodge School does NOT* make for civic-mindedness; inward looking; forwardly progressive thinkers; or visionaries who recognize that he who controls the “FOOD” controls – LIFE*…

    No wonder R.L. SEALE & CO; got wanna by wanna balls!!!


  9. There is an article which appeared in the British press last month which highlighted exploding watermelons being cultivated by the Chinese. Again another reason to look at food security more seriously.


  10. Barbados has had 40 years to ADOPT* a serious FOOD SECURITY* policy & strategy if it really wanted to – given that INDEPENDENCE* in 1966 opened the door to a wealth of possibilities which were never thought through…

    In part, one can argue that after the GENIUS* of “THE SKIPPER” was not built upon – we as a nation did an “EXIT STAGE LEFT EVEN” for the nearest Anglo-Saxon model to adopt in terms of a social development policy…

    What we forget was that in the 1960’s & 70’s the land-owning classes in AMERICA & EUROPE were the ones who controlled FOOD* production and hence were the one who dictated government policy because they were in retrospect – THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MERCHANT CLASS!!!

    Building on such a model, the white man successfully divested in what we now see as modern technology and all other industries but “FOOD” remains at the top of the “BIO_CHAIN”…

    So my question to the good folks in BIM* – (putting aside all the excuses)…WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM THAT YOU ARE NOT SELF-SUFFICIENT AT LEAST IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR?

    Planting houses does FEED* a population!!!

    Sugar cane agriculture has become a toxic sweetener of late 18th & 19th century British imperialist mercantilism…(and forget the smoke ‘n’ mirrors of using Foreign Exchange as LEGIT* reason for continuing with an age-old RELIC* of traditionalist suppression of an entire group of people allowing for the landowning gentry to hold on to vast swathes of our land because of sugarcane production and EXPORT* quotas)…

    The time has long past for a REVAMP* and for some progressive thinking about future sustainability and how we can feed our people in the event of a FOOD CRISIS* that is surely looming!!!

    Maybe, your nonchalant PM Stuart can spearhead some investment in this most neglected INDUSTRY* on his return from China (after auctioning off the rest of the BAJAN* crown jewels)…

    Lawd hab merci….


  11. @ DAVID

    And you are ABSOLUTELY* correct on that piece of INFO regarding Chinese watermelons…

    Who knows, after accessing HALF A BILLION* US$$$ from the Chinese, maybe they will have even more opportunities to “DUMP” their “CRAP” in our backyard given the fact that compliance may be a “strict” conditional clause within the FINE_PRINT* of the contract…

    In many ways, I feel a sense foreboding for my country as its leaders & politicians are like a bunch of SHEEPLE* without a TRUE* Shepherd!!!

    Again, I reiterate, “where there is no vision – ‘THE PEOPLE’ perish”…

    Surely, there must be some real LEADERSHIP* somewhere???


  12. @TB

    The big cry in Barbados nowadays is the price of gas/ electricity bills along with food of course. The fact that the backyards remain overrun with grass, there is the opportunity to visit the plantations and did ‘rods’ and pick tomatoes etc for a fraction of the cost in the supermarkets etc. More importantly there is no national agenda being enunciated by our leaders which has sought to excite the public.


  13. @HANTS

    You make some valid points – but again I must reiterate that in order for the small-land-holding class of BLACKS in Barbados to have a real voice – there must be REAL* leadership and forward thinking on the part of the political powers that be…

    Just as in Europe TODAY* – (and I understand the ECONOMICS*) the SPANISH farmers as well as the German farmers will be compensated through EU Farms Subsidizes program for loss of earning due to the willful & systematic destruction of their cucumbers and whatever else they lost – the same thing may not be “entirely” possible in Barbados in all given cases…

    That said, I believe government must sit down with FARMERS* and work on a unified strategy that will incentivize them to grow more food and to curb the speculative importation of CHEAP CRAP* from free-zones to maximize the merchants-class bank accounts and more emphasis be put on the RETAIL* and the consumption of more locally produced Fruit & VEG***….

    I know with the CARICOM issue there maybe roadblocks to denying large-scale importation – that is where strategic forward thinking comes in from those amongst our “POLITICAL” classes – men who are being paid handsomely as PUBLIC SERVANTS!!!

    Making local food cheap and affordable yet as close to being as ORGANICALLY produced as possible is NOT* a pipe dream but a living, breathing possibility…(at least with a little will-power)…


  14. @TB

    There is the attendant issue of the health related issue which ties in not so nicely to our burgeoning health expense at the individual and national level.


  15. @ DAVID

    I like your terminology – “EXCITE THE PUBLIC”!!!

    Those words harp back to a time when the game of POLITICS* did create EXCITEMENT – and I am not talking about political rancor, partisan mudslinging and the epiphenomenon of the worship of certain individual politicians… (although that said – WE DID ADORE THE SKIPPER FOR WHO HE WAS)…

    Like you, I am still patiently waiting for someone or something to emerge from the ashes of post 1966 Bajan politics that would incentivize me to want to return to my homeland to make a contribution of sorts (and I am not talking about starting a CHURCH* or some God-forsaken RELIGIOUS* entity)…. LOLL*

    Let me throw out an idea – and in the FACTORY* of ideas for those with the $$$ to make it happen… 5 years ago, I came and looked a piece of land on the hill in St.Thomas and while surveying the glories that is Barbados, an idea hit me regarding the low-lying areas of the BELLE PLANTATION basin…

    Now David, Barbados as you know has become a play ground for the NOUVEAU RICHE* & INFAMOUS**… Wherever you turn, you can access a GOLF-COURSE (a game I love)… Now consider that all the grass that “kits” out these plush-evergreen fairways is usually imported special grass…

    What if we could grow acres and acres of the said grass – replicating production across many such acres for EXPORT* to other Caribbean island that are developing similar courses as part of their TOURISM strategy as well being self-sufficient with our own lawns and fairways???

    I looked at the cost analysis which included land usage, infrastructural development, technology & manpower as well as operational capital and residual expenditure…

    The business plan was a WIN-WIN!!!

    Went and put it to a very prominent BAJAN* millionaire business-man and his response was – “man you been living in a glass house too long, yeh!) I laughed but underneath, I realized that again – “WHERE THERE IS NO VISION – THE PEOPLE PERISH”…


  16. @ DAVID

    Again, you hit the nail on the head!!!

    When FOLKS* are sick – it puts an undue burden on the NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE* and the QEH…

    This cost has to met – DRUGS, OPERATIVE & POST-OP TREATMENTS, IN-HOUSE CARE, MANPOWER and the all the bloody expenses that come with remedial care…

    Well, for a NATION* of such affluently educated, literary-minded individuals – it appears we haven’t done a good job of educating ourselves as to how to stay WELL*** which includes the right kinda’ foods to eat, the different combinations of foods and the ability to say “NO” to the CRAP* we are fed through media advertising and merchant brainwashing!!!

    My great & grandparents ate well and lived to 90+ and some 100 years old and died with all their teeth intact… sad that 2 -3 generations later, we are in such a right-state…


  17. @David: “The big cry in Barbados nowadays is the price of gas/ electricity bills along with food of course.

    But how many drive less? Or use their AC less?

    I remember back in 2002 at my office in Wildy there were three women who used to *drive* the 150 meters across the parking lot to get their lunch! (C&W call centre workers.)

    Trust me — these women could have used the walk…

    @TMB: “My great & grandparents ate well and lived to 90+ and some 100 years old and died with all their teeth intact… sad that 2 -3 generations later, we are in such a right-state…

    You probably don’t watch much American TV. But to inform you, it seems that most of the ads are either for cars, or drugs.

    With regards to the drugs, they promise to restore healthy living for various conditions. But while they used to have disclaimers like “…may cause anal leakage.”, they now all seem to say “…in extreme cases, may cause death. Consult your doctor.”.

    Is this a society Barbados should try to copy?


  18. all it is in bim is nuff talk. Imagine a bale of grass cost like $8 for one and the price of feed is near $40 a bag. i KNOW FOR SURE THERE IS NO MONEY IN BLACK BELLY sheep production at all and don;t let me get started on the people down greenland who suppose to help small sheep farmers with a proper breed. Yuh would dead waiting on them for a call

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